Mets fans, especially those on Twitter, have a fascination with Daniel Murphy. The #ImWith28 movement seems to grow with each and every game, as Murphy is proving to be one of the Mets better hitters. After last night’s game, Murphy is tied with Paul Goldschimidt of Arizona for the National League lead in hits with 80. Murphy is also hitting .305 with a .361 on base percentage through 62 games.
Murphy is entering his last year of arbitration eligibility, with 2016 being his free agent year. Questions have surrounded around how much longer Murphy will be a Met, as he may be pricing himself out of the Sandy Alderson budget.
But his value to the Mets is much more than his value to other teams and an extension could very well be in the works. Murphy has improved vastly on his game from last year. His approach has changed and Murphy has stopped chasing as many bad pitches as he had in the past and is beginning to draw more walks, which speaks to his on-base percentage this season. This approach has also allowed Murphy to make more solid contact which has led to some more power. So far this season, Murphy has five home runs. His career high in a season is 13, which was last year and in the two years prior he only had 12 combined home runs. With Murphy showing a bit more power, he has become a well-rounded player.
The only real facet of the game that Murphy could show some improvement is his defense. Murphy was never known for his defense and it wasn’t expected of him to be a gold-glover at second base. But if Murphy could tighten up some of his fundies (turning double plays is the big one), his game would take another giant step.
If Murphy continues to play at this pace (which is totally within reach), he could find himself playing for another team this summer. The second base market seems to be the market that everyone is looking at with Phillies 2B Chase Utley being the prized commodity. If teams aren’t able to acquire Utley, they may turn to the Mets and Daniel Murphy as a plan B. If that is the case, the Mets should be able to move Murphy, get a good return on him and finally be able to get Wilmer Flores regular playing time.
It’s a tough decision for the front office to make. Reports have shown that in the past the Mets have asked a high price for Daniel Murphy and there’s no reason for that to change. If the Mets can get a good return for Murphy they will pull the trigger. If that return doesn’t materialize, the Mets have no problem keeping Murphy, extending him and building around him and David Wright as the top hitters in the Mets lineup.
Daniel Murphy has had an interesting year. From being called out for missing opening day to speaking at the White House this past week, Murphy’s off the field drama hasn’t affected his play on the field. That on the field play is about to led to Murphy getting a raise or finding himself on a contender making an October push. Both of those options seem to be good for both the Mets and Murphy, but it’s a decision that can re-shape the path that the Mets have put themselves on. And with what has happened over the past couple of weeks, each decision needs to work out in the end or more and more of the fan base will be alienated and move on from the Mets. This summer continues to be a turning point for the Mets, one can that shape the future forever.