Remarkably, Daniel Murphy finished the 2014 season as the second-longest tenured Met behind only David Wright. Since making his major league debut in August 2008, Murphy's 773 games and 3,081 plate appearances are second only to New York's captain, despite the fact he missed the entire 2010 campaign with a pair of knee injuries. Settling in as the Mets' regular second baseman after stints in left field and first base, the 29-year-old will enter 2015 coming off his first All-Star selection. He has also posted an fWAR between 2.8-3.0 in three of the last four seasons and has not posted a wRC+ lower than 103 since 2011. Despite his relative consistency and solid play, Murphy has found himself to be a constant source of trade rumors virtually year-round, with this offseason being no exception. Is this the year he finally gets dealt or will a continued lack of overall interest keep Murphy in Queens for another year?
No one will confuse Murphy for Robinson Cano as a hitter and his fielding certainly doesn't bring to mind memories of Roberto Alomar in his prime. However, since becoming the Mets' regular keystone sacker in 2012, Murphy has averaged 153 games per season, posted an OPS between .733 and .735, and has hit .287/.327/.407 with an average of 9 home runs, 67 RBI, 50 extra base hits and a 107 OPS+. His defense is anything but strong and his baserunning will not be shown on any instructional videos, but a look at the numbers shows Murphy compares favorably to other second baseman in the National League.
|Avg. NL 2B||.251||.308||.368||6.7||.676||.117|
The quote most often associated with Murphy is that "he's more valuable to the Mets than to other teams." On the surface, that may be so, particularly as one of the only lineup mainstays to remain healthy each of the last three seasons. If anything, a trade to a club with more offensive firepower could enhance Murphy's numbers but for now, the Jacksonville University product is usually grouped into the "best suited for a DH role" category. The emergence of Dilson Herrera, who impressed in a late-season call-up and is slated to start 2015 at Triple-A Las Vegas, has only added fuel to the trade rumor flames. In addition, Murphy is arbitration eligible once again this winter and after an All-Star selection and a $5.7 million salary in 2014, he can expect to almost double that for 2015. With the Mets' finances being what they are, this helps explain why general manager Sandy Alderson is constantly shopping him. Murphy's production, particularly as a second baseman, continues to help expand the bundle of dollar bills in his wallet. Although Fangraphs.com pegged his worth at $15.3 million in 2014, the Mets certainly don't share the same opinion.
So while a player of Murphy's caliber would provide value to a number of teams in baseball, it seems that New York's 13th round pick in the 2006 draft is caught in a numbers game. Even in a market starved for offense that has teams searching every nook and cranny for it, Murphy's name has brought back virtually nothing of worth in the Mets' eyes. While Murphy can be labeled as one of the better hitting second baseman, his lack of power, below average on-base skills, and poor defense relative to the salary he will command just a year away from free agency is leaving teams wary of surrendering anything of substance in a deal.
Murphy's consistency, both good and bad, leads to an air of reliability that may be missed if Herrera takes longer to develop or doesn't pan out. No one will ever think of Murphy as anything but a solid major leaguer. However, the lack of sincere interest in his services makes for an interesting discussion, particularly with the state of offense within the game. Thanks to a perceived value as well as the Mets' seemingly never-ending financial constraints, 2015 will almost certainly be Murphy's last in the orange and blue. Whether he leaves via free agency or is finally traded, Murphy will be fondly remembered by most Mets' fans down the road. Unfortunately, most of his legacy in Queens will also be remembered for who he wasn't traded for rather than what he did on the field.