When Daniel Murphy inevitably swaps his orange-and-blues for any other uniform, it will look odd for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that Murphy has become such a consistent presence on this ball club. Second, until recently Murphy wasn't the type of player that any other team would be all that interested in acquiring.
Since 2008, Murphy's 773 games and 3,081 plate appearances are second only to David Wright among Mets players. If someone had told you back when Murphy was struggling to track down fly balls in left field that he was going to become one of the faces of the franchise, you would have reflexively spit out your drink.
Since settling in as the team's second baseman in 2012, Murphy has averaged 153 games per year. For a player who goes on as many hot and cold streaks as he does, it is incredible how consistent Murphy's year-end statistics have become. Take a look at his OPS over the past three seasons:
To take it even further, Murphy has recorded an fWAR between 2.8 and 3.0 in three of the last four seasons. Consistency like that is what fosters the popular theory that Daniel Murphy was created in a robotics factory to do one thing: hit a baseball at a slightly-above-average rate. Unfortunately, the word "robotic" would also be an appropriate description of Murphy's defensive play.
In his early seasons with the team, watching Murphy play defense was an adventure, and not a fun one like Indiana Jones or Guardians of the Galaxy. Perhaps The Day After Tomorrow or a similarly plodding disaster movie would be more fitting. Since his permanent conversion to the infield, Murphy has made massive strides in becoming a competent and versatile defender. Though his motions will always be stiff and awkward, he's worked hard at turning himself into a passable defender.
Unfortunately for Mets fans who have taken a liking to the 29-year-old, Murphy's improvements likely mean he has priced himself out of the team's long-term plans. Should the Mets acquire a shortstop or fall out of contention by the trade deadline, be prepared to see Murphy's name come up in trade rumors.
Fortunately for Mets fans who have taken a liking to Sandy Alderson's ability to turn expiring contracts into useful prospects, there could be a number of teams interested in acquiring the former 13th round pick.
Let's go ahead and take a look at some teams who could be a fit for Murphy's services.
Although they finally won the AL East for the first time since the Clinton administration, the Orioles are strong candidates to regress in 2015. With the departures of Nelson Cruz—who signed with the Mariners—and Nick Markakis—who signed with the Braves—Baltimore may want to make some upgrades in order to keep up with their busy division rivals. Jonathan Schoop is currently penciled in at second base, but he has always been more potential than production, having yet to distinguish himself in the minors or majors. If the Orioles are serious about contending again, adding a proven bat at second base is not the worst idea.
After their first playoff visit since the Nintendo Entertainment System made its way stateside, the Royals will be looking to retool and make another run. General Manager Dayton Moore is not shy about giving up prospects for major league talent, and Daniel Murphy's aggressive mindset and ability to steal a base (46 stolen bases in 56 attempts since 2012) fits manager Ned Yost's style perfectly. Omar Infante and Mike Moustakas are currently holding down second and third base, respectively, but both are coming off of dreadful regular seasons. Murphy could also replace the bat of Billy Butler, who bolted for the Athletics.
The departure of Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox has left the Dodgers' lineup and infield in flux. Aside from the lack of a proven shortstop, the Dodgers are also depending on Juan Uribe, a 35-year-old third baseman who has averaged 94 games over the past four years. It is possible they will roll the dice with either Dee Gordon or Alex Guerrero at shortstop, with the other handling second base. Still, it is within the realm of possibility that they could be interested in Murphy's services, especially considering their deep pockets and propensity to overstock certain positions.
The idea of Murphy in Yankees pinstripes is a little unsettling, but it actually makes some sense. The Yankees' infield is a mess, doubly so if they are unable to re-sign Chase Headley. With many of their key players unlikely to play a full season, Murphy's versatility would really come in handy. The two New York teams are not often trade partners, though, and the Yankees may have their own Daniel Murphy in youngster Robert Refsnyder, who has hit at every level in the minors while sometimes struggling in the field.
Nobody really knows what Billy Beane is doing right now. The signing of Billy Butler and the trade of Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays send mixed signals as to whether they are retooling to make another run or looking toward the future. If they are indeed looking to reach the playoffs, second base is the most obvious area at which they can upgrade. Although Eric Sogard may have the second best face in all of baseball, scientifically speaking, he is hardly a difference-maker on the field. Murphy's lack of defensive prowess will not scare away Billy Beane, but his low walk rate might.
With Pablo Sandoval striking it rich in Boston, the Giants suddenly find themselves with a massive panda-shaped hole on the left side of their infield. Murphy can't come particularly close to filling Sandoval's production, but there are few available players who can. If they miss out on Chase Headley, Murphy could be a sensible fallback.
Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto has already made some major upgrades this offseason, signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. There are still some issues with their righty-dominated lineup, including the lack of an average second baseman. They could turn to newly acquired prospect Devon Travis, who has never played above Double-A, but they may want another established bat while Travis gains seasoning in the minors.
Ryan Zimmerman is set to vacate the hot corner to Anthony Rendon, meaning the Nationals will depend on Danny Espinosa to hold down second base. While he has shown some flashes over his career, Espinosa's .581 OPS over the past two seasons simply doesn't cut it. They'll probably give him every chance to run away with the job in spring training, but if he struggles early in the season, the Nationals may look for an upgrade. Although trades within the division are uncommon, Murphy would be a good fit for a Washington team that has a surplus of pitching and outfield prospects from which they could deal.