Free agent Daniel Murphy could fit into the 2019 Mets at first base

Daniel Murphy had a fine career with the Mets capped by his incredible 2015 performance especially in the NLDS and NLCS, including a record of six consecutive postseason homers. After that 2015 season, the Mets did not offer him a long-term contract and Murphy chose to sign with the Nationals. Murphy was traded to the Cubs in August, and his contract has now expired, meaning Murphy will once again be a free agent.

There are reasons why the Mets’ management could make a bid to land Murphy. The team needs more offense, and Murphy can still provide that. As recently as 2017 he put up a slash line of .322/.384/.543, including 43 doubles. After the 2017 he did undergo microfracture knee surgery, costing him part of the 2018 season. After returning he got off to a slow start, perhaps due to rust and/or not being fully healed. At any rate, for 2018 his final slash line was .299/.336/.454, despite his slow start. How slow was that start? For the first one half of the season he batted .253, rebounding to .315 in the second half. The man can still hit.

But, some might say, he was never a great defender at 2b, and he’s lost a step. Besides the Mets have Jeff McNeil to play second, and the 2018 rookie was red-hot after he earned his way into the starting lineup. Murphy probably is not a real good fit at second anymore, although he did hold down the fort there for the Cubs in the latter part of 2018. But Murphy does not have to play second for the Mets. Murphy has played a fair amount of first base in his career, including during his tenure with the Mets. He lacks the desired range for an MLB second baseman, but is satisfactory for a first baseman.

First base is an unsettled position for the Mets looking to 2019. Options include the now arthritic Wilmer Flores, declining natural outfielder Jay Bruce, and untested minor leaguer Peter Alonso. Flores is coming off a poor 2018 and has health questions, and Bruce may well be needed more at corner outfield with Yoenis Cespedes out for a good chunk, if not all, of 2019. Alonso may or may not be called up to the big club, and observers agree he needs to improve his defense. It certainly seems like a proven bat like Murphy’s would be an asset to the Mets at first base. His defense as a first sacker likely would be better than all of the other three possibilities mentioned.

Murphy, of course, is a left-handed batter, and the Mets have a bigger need for a right-handed bat. But there a lot more right-handed pitchers than left- handed ones, and the Mets balance will swing a bit when righty batter Cespedes returns to the lineup.

Murphy made 17.5 million in 2018, but he will not get anywhere near that in his next contract. He will turn 34 at the beginning of next year. If the Mets can land him for a deal similar to what they signed Todd Frazier for last year (2 years, 17 million total) Murphy would likely earn every bit of that.

The Mets have struggled to score runs for the past two seasons, and creating runs at the opportune time is where Murphy shines. Looking at his 2018 season, in low leverage situations his BA was .277, and in medium leverage ABs it was .303. But in the most important ABs, the high leverage ones, Murphy put up an incredible .371 mark. He hits when it counts.

26 comments for “Free agent Daniel Murphy could fit into the 2019 Mets at first base

  1. October 16, 2018 at 8:49 am

    No thanks he can’t move is left handed has wrecked knees and in 2018 he was nowhere near the hitter he was in 2016-2017

  2. October 16, 2018 at 9:58 am

    John you stated all the reasons why the Mets shouldn’t sign Murphy. And can we at least have a clear picture as to where the Mets will spend what little money they have available to upgrade C and CF? Sign another round peg for a square hole again? If Bruce has slowed down with age where you plan to play him and his 14 million dollar salary? McNeil is what 10 years younger and God knows he’s cheaper than whatever Murphy is going to be asking for. Another good hit, poor defender with no speed on the bases. This is what you want John? As bad a year as Flores had he’s still only a part time player at best. If the team feels his knee is that bad then non tender him

  3. Metsense
    October 16, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Wasting free agent money on a 34 year old who has bad knees is a terrible idea. The Mets already have a 13 million-dollar first baseman outfielder who also has bad legs. They also have two young minimum salary players in Smith and Alonso to play first base also. I think those three can man first base and use the free agent money for the bullpen and catcher positions.

  4. Mike Walczak
    October 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Bad move- other more pressing needs.

  5. October 16, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Just Say No. …what Metsense says

  6. Chris F
    October 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    we already have a half dozen unproven or half cooked first basemen on the team…the thought of adding another makes me dizzy, and not in a good way.

    Just. Say. No.

  7. Chris F
    October 16, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Why want Dom Smith listed at 1B?

    • John Fox
      October 16, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Good point Chris, I overlooked Dom Smith, his bat is not comparable to Murphy’s though

      • TJ
        October 16, 2018 at 7:19 pm

        Too early to write off Dom but also he cannot be penciled in for the job.

        Regarding Murph, thanks for the memories, but no thanks. Not a fit. 1b, lefty, iffy knees, backside of career. The AL is calling. All the best.

  8. October 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    I’m with everyone else. We finally have glimpses of hope team leadership understands youth, defense and speed are important. Why saddle ourselves with more aging, breaking players? Murph was great in 2015 and long a fan favorite, but we’re looking at the 2019 season. Keep moving forward.

  9. Pete from NJ
    October 16, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    If this was October 31, 2015 I would say let’s sign him to a long term contract putting him at 1st base and jettison Lucas Duda. Or maybe use him at 3rd base as insurance to give David Wright some off days. Use the newly acquired Neil Walker around the infield.

    So by the names of Murphy-Wright-Duda-Walker this ancient history and not the future. It could have been but certainly not what it should be.

  10. TexasGusCC
    October 16, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    John, you’re on to something, but you should say the obvious: First base is clogged up. What isn’t, is across the way. On a real contender, there’s no discussion. Murphy to third base would help this team immensely. Frazier was a colossal error, and he’s not going to get better. Murphy’s numbers the last two months: .314/.341/.500/.841 with a BABIP of .322 tell you he’s still a quality player, but Mets fans want sure things. They want 8 all-stars and I wonder if that’s enough. How banged up can he be when he played in 54 games the last two months with 220 plate appearances? How “shot” are his knees that the Cubs had him leading off every game?

    Yesterday, I compared Rosario’s first year to Xander Boegarts’. Everyone thinks that players should come up and be studs. But Boegarts wasn’t, neither was Arcia, but a blue chip talent like a 21 year old Rosario is endeared in other fandoms. Instead here, he should be traded, moved to CF, moved to 3B, moved to 2B, or just thrown off a cliff.

    I would love to sign a professional hitter like Murphy, something this team lacks. Even if he’s spelled for 25% of the season, he’s an asset. No, we want sure outs like Frazier and while we knock Rosario and embrace whole heartedly a kid with 200 plate appearances in his career that has been hurt more often than d’Arnaud. I like it John at 2/35, with a vesting option. That’s what winning teams do. No wonder we don’t win.

    • John Fox
      October 17, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks Gus, I figured I would get mostly negative remarks, so thanks for the positive one. Good point about Murphy’s durability with the Cubs, seems like he has recovered well from the knee surgery which was very similar to what Justin Turner underwent and he too recovered well.

  11. Chris F
    October 16, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    OMG Gus. No, no, no, no, no. Hes worse than Flores from 3B, and thats sayign something.

    Murphy at 3B would be an unmitigated disaster.

  12. TJ
    October 16, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Gus,
    Yes Murph is a professional hitter. Like the Moises Alous et al, he’ll likely be able to hit in his 50s. But, the Mets are lefty heavy, and already saddled with a few thirty-somethings. I’ll pass on Murph while being patient with Rosario. They’ll likely upgrade Frazier from within.

  13. MattyMets
    October 16, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    First base is spoken for. There is no reason not to give Alonso a shot to claim it as his spot for the next six years +. If he needs another month or two in AAA to delay his arb clock and work on defense, we can get by with Flores/Smith/Bruce until then.

    This team needs a dynamic right handed bat at C, CF or 3B.

    • Rae
      October 16, 2018 at 11:51 pm

      The Mets need to sign Wilson Ramos to catch and have Nido as his backup. Nido should catch when Syndergaard and Matz pitch while Ramos is behind the plate when deGrom, Wheeler, and hopefully Patrick Corbin who could sign with the Mets for 2019 if they make the right offer to him. What starting pitcher wouldn’t want to be in a deadly rotation of deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard, and Matz?

      • October 17, 2018 at 12:24 am

        And with no money left to sign a competent closer or set up man I can imagine the GM not lasting in New York too long. What about Vargas and his 8 million?

    • Rae
      October 17, 2018 at 12:12 am

      Wilson Ramos is the right handed bat the Mets need. He hits well, is a decent defensive catcher, and will throw out more runners then Plawecki, Mesoraco Lobaton, or d’Arnaud combined. If I’m the Mets front office I am sending Plawecki back to AAA to see if some catching coach there can teach him how to throw runners out. Look how AA catcher, Patrick Mazeika was able to throw out 30% of runners in 2018, plus his game calling, and defense also greatly improved. I’d have Plawecki and Mazeika share the AAA catching duties at Syracuse in 2019. The Mets have nothing to loose by having both of these catchers playing in Syracuse next year.

      • October 17, 2018 at 12:31 am

        Except money. He’s arb A1 probably a million if not more. I don’t see the Coupons allowing that kind of investment waiting to mature.

    • October 17, 2018 at 1:33 am

      I agree on the RH bat—I’d like it to be an oiutfielder

  14. Rae
    October 16, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    I said if before but I think the new GM needs to sign Eduardo Escobar to play 3B in 2019. In his Major League career he has always hit above 270, hits slightly above 20 HRs per year, is a good defender with a good arm, and can also play SS and 2B, and is an average runner. He would cost the Mets a pittance so I think this is a guy they should focus on plus he just turned 30 so he is neither a young pup or an ancient albatross. Oh, I forgot to mention he is a switch hitter.

  15. Nym6986
    October 17, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Enough about signing a player who is in their mid thirties like Murphy. We already know his flaws in the field which is why we offered a qualifying offer to him and not a long term deal. Let’s concentrate on a big right handed bat and a strong defensive catcher.

  16. October 17, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I anticipate a decent bounce back by Todd. Mets could use an OF bat similar to Steve Pierce. I don;t believe in counting on a Catcher’s Bat…and that will be very expensive.

  17. Jonny Johnson
    October 18, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    It would be nice to see Murph back, but it’s really the Yankees who need a guy like Murphy. Left-handed hitter in that bandbox who isn’t a windmill for 200 K’s like most of their lineup and hits for average. But they’ll be too busy chasing Harper which will practically guarantee them not being a championship team.

  18. nickel7168
    October 19, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    well, he certainly can’t fit in anywhere as a 2B any longer…
    last thing we need is another LH 1st base candidate

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