Should the Mets think about extending Daniel Murphy?

Daniel MurphyAfter an up and down season, Daniel Murphy’s final stat line isn’t too bad at all.

.285/.315/.415, .320 wOBA, 106 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR, and for what it’s worth, career highs in hits (186), home runs (13), stolen bases (20, while being caught only three times), triples (four), runs scored (92), and RBIs (76).

The average second baseman this year .256/.316/.375 mark, with a 90 wRC+, meaning that Murphy has been 16 percent better at the plate than the average second baseman.

Fangraphs likes to convert WAR to dollars, and by their calculations, Murphy’s performance this season has been worth $15 million on the open market.

The Mets are paying Murphy just $2.9 million.

In other words, Murphy is due for a big payday soon.

But the Mets can avoid having to play Murphy large increases by offering him a reasonable contract extension once the season is over.

Ideally, the contract would buy out Murphy’s final two years of arbitration eligibility and two-to-three years of free agency.

A 4-year, $28 million contract would not be something totally unreasonable for both sides to agree to.

A Murphy extension would accomplish several goals.

First of all, it would a homegrown above average-to-good everyday second baseman with the Mets.  The Mets haven’t had a truly good second baseman since the days of Edgardo Alfonzo, save for one freak year from Jose Valentin.  Being able to get solid offensive contributions from a position not associated with solid offensive contributions is a great advantage for a team hoping to compete for the playoffs soon.

The only second basemen in all of baseball with a better weighted Runs Above Average than Murphy are the elite group of Matt Carpenter, Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis, Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist and Dustin Pedroia.  With the exception of Utley and the Phillies, the teams that those players play for are all either in the playoffs or have been serious contenders.

Second, it would send a message to a weary fan base that the spending that keeps getting talked about is going to be for real.  By locking up another homegrown fan-favorite, Sandy Alderson will convey that a new era of Mets baseball is beginning.

Now, signing players for the sake of appeasing the fan base is what got the Mets into this mess in the first place (think Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez), but a reasonable contract for a consistent 2-3 WAR player is a far cry from $66 million for a 32-year-old left fielder.

This contract would send a message that the Mets are going to do right by their homegrown players and reward them when they produce up to expectations.

That may not directly help them on the baseball field, but to fans who feel alienated by years of losing and front office decisions motivated by slashing payroll and accumulating prospects, it would be a good way to harbor some good faith – and get them to come out to Citi Field.

Of course, a Murphy extension also raises the question of what to do with Wilmer Flores, whose only defensive positions are third base, occupied by the best in baseball, and second base, occupied by Murphy.

Those concerns can be addressed at a later date, however, because Flores is still only 21-years-old, and clearly could stand a little more seasoning down in AAA (I’ll share my opinions on Flores in a future column).

So to answer the question that is the title of this article, yes, the Mets absolutely should extend Murphy, and usher in a new era of baseball in Flushing.

Hopefully one filled with October baseball.

Joe Vasile is a play-by-play announcer for Widener Pride football and the host of “Ball Four” on WTSR in Trenton.  Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.

14 comments for “Should the Mets think about extending Daniel Murphy?

  1. Name
    September 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I wouldn’t extend him for a few reasons.
    1) His hitting is trending in the wrong direction. He’s also become a very streaky hitter. When he’s on he pulls and drives the ball and when he’s not he tries to slap it like Ichiro. He’s doing too much slapping recently and that disturbs me.
    2) Flexibility. The Mets keep the option of trading Murphy open if they do not signing him.
    3) A lot of his value this year is derived from his baserunning, and i expect the next couple of years that pitchers will be paying a lot more attention to Murphy on the basepaths which will probably reduce his stolen base rate.
    4) If we do wish to extend him, I don’t see any extra benefit of signing him next year compared to this year.

    So yea, he still has 2 more years of arbitration. I would wait at least until next offseason to entertain extending him. This year Alderson should focus on other things.

  2. kjs
    September 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    WAR is fun, but indicating that Murphy’s 2013 is worth 15M also makes WAR a ludicrous indicator of actual value, imho.

    He’s worth keeping to the degree that we have so many other disasters to address on and off the field. And he’s a good guy. I’d rather see him eventually transform into our bench guy who can DH and PH.

  3. Sean Flattery
    September 26, 2013 at 12:55 am

    He’s an asset worth keeping. I don’t think he’s hit his ceiling yet either. Gotta love the SBs outta Murph this year too.

  4. September 26, 2013 at 2:29 am

    I can’t see this Met management giving 28 million dollars to a second baseman regardless of his WAR. There just isn’t money in the budget when you have a Wilmer Flores at a minimum salary waiting in the wings. Murphy will be part of a package deal if the Mets cannot sign a free agent outfielder.

  5. Metsense
    September 26, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Murphy at age 28 is coming into his prime the next two years and should cost in arbitration 4.5 for 2014 and 6.0 for 2015. As a free agent he could command Aaron Hill money in 2016 and 2017 of 11M but by that time the Mets would know what they had in Flores, Herrera and Muno. If he signed at 7M for 4 years he would be very appealing as trade bait to teams or a cheap good player if kept. I would extend him under those terms strictly for business reasons.

  6. ChrisB
    September 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Murphy is a decent offensive second baseman, but his defensive WAR is -1.5 which is his worst season to date. So if that trend continues, where will you play him? He’s not SO good that he’ll bump anyone else out. .733 OPS is not stellar — it’s just above average.

    No reason to lock that up long term, though I like Murphy and want the Mets to keep him.

    • September 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      I know you’re getting those defensive numbers from B-R but to me they don’t pass the eye test.

      If we look at FanGraphs, Murphy had a (-13.3) UZR/150 in 2012 and a (-5.3) UZR/150 in 2013, with both numbers just on his time at 2B. Just from watching him, he seemed to be a much better defensive player in 2013 than he was in 2012.

      • steevy
        September 30, 2013 at 12:59 pm

        I agree Brian.RF stayed the same but his DP numbers were much improved.DP is my most important measurement for second basemen(yeah,I know the pitching staff effects it) .

  7. steevy
    September 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Now,if only he could walk 60 times,hell 50 ,while hitting the same.

  8. Jerry Grote
    September 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    If you can get a 2 to 3 WAR guy to commit his 29-32 seasons, for $7MM a year, fly to him immediately with a pen. Better yet, fly him to a phenomenal vacation with his entire extended family for a month and sign him.

    Fangraphs makes him a 3ish guy, BBref gets him to 2+ over the last three years. In three of the last four years he’s played 150+ games. He’s great in the clubhouse, and he adds around the basepaths.

    If you want to go to the playoffs two out of the next three years, you keep Murphy and trade Flores.

    • Chris F
      September 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      I totally agree JG. Murph is a full season grinder. Im not sure his defense is improving that much and I dont think his defending ceiling is much higher, but he can be a nice guy on a competitive team. Flores is not the right replacement for Murph and I cant see Murph alone bringing anyone of importance to Flushing and what would we need to bundle with him to do so…and create a problem at 2B?

      Far as Im concerned, Murph stays and JG makes a reasonable argument. Lets not make 2B the next crisis.

      • Dim C
        December 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        I would keep Murph as my everyday second baseman for the next 3 years. I would give him $3.5 in 2014 while adding a 3 year contract for $7 per year. It would work for both of us. A bargain for what his numbers could be and buying time for perhaps Nielson Herrerra.
        Besides David Wright, my other best position player for the Mets the last 3 years has been Murph and he does not get injured as often except for a freak accident while turning a double play.

  9. Chris
    October 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Keep him. His value is pretty high at the moment but he’s a guy who is something a lot of these Mets players aren’t: CLUTCH. Yeah, he could go 0-4 in a one game playoff but his hitting with runners in scoring position, especially with 2-out, you can’t always buy that kind of production. He could play a few feet closer on defense though.

  10. ChrisB
    October 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Murphy’s OPS was 11th best out of 18 qualifiers at second base – so if this was his career year and offense is is calling card, he still didn’t make the top half.

    Now Wilmer Flores has an up-and-down minor league history, so I wouldn’t go trade Murphy on the prospect of Flores being a star. But the jury is still out on him, so I wouldn’t slam the door on him just yet just because an above-average Murphy with questionable defense is blocking him.

    Let arbitration play out and see what you got in Flores before you trade him away. If he developed into a star, you’d look pretty foolish. Flores is close to MLB ready and really young still. He won’t turn 23 until late next summer.

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