Daniel Murphy: The case of the $60 million miscue

Daniel Murphy is a polarizing figure for New York Mets fans. Some point to his clutch hitting and gritty play as reasons to support him.

Others mention his flaws. His poor defense, poor base running, and lack of general baseball knowledge are all knocks against him.

All of this is true. Murphy was a great, gritty player for the Mets. And he had his flaws as well. It would not take long watching Murph to see him make a bad play. Some were obvious errors. A ball clanking off his glove is an example of this.

There were other mistakes he made throughout his Mets career, that do not go down as errors. Him throwing the ball in the dirt, for example, and not getting the second out on a double play, stands out as a most common miscue.

There are plenty of other miscues, of course. But the biggest miscue might have been turning down the Mets qualifying offer, following the 2015 Major League Baseball season.

The qualifying offer for the 2016 season was $15.8 million. Murphy instead agreed to a 3 year contract, reportedly worth $37.5 million. With him agreeing to defer money-without interests- during the contract, Major League Baseball values Murph’s contract at $37.270 million.

Murphy played in 2016 for the Nationals, and was due to make $8 million. Part of that money was deferred, dropping his actual salary to $5 million. The Mets qualifying offer, that Murphy turned down, was $15.8 million.

Murphy then went on to have his best season as a profession ball player. He led the league in doubles with 47. He had 25 home runs with a career high 104 RBIs. His slash line is an impressive .347/.390/.595. He lead the league in slugging and on base percentage.

If he did that with the Mets, after accepting the qualifying offer, he would have been one of the top two free agents on the market, right with fellow Met, Yoenis Cespedes.

Yoenis had a solid 2016 season, leading the Mets to the play offs for a second year in a row. He had 25 doubles, 31 home runs and 85 RBIs. His slash line was .280/.352/.540.

Cespedes signed a 4 year, $109 million contract with the Mets that off season.

This is where things get interesting. Cespedes signed one of the last $100 million contracts. A look at the current atmosphere for free agents, says he probably doesn’t get that contract today. Jay Bruce just re-signed with the Mets for 3 years at $39 million

If Murphy was a free agent following his break out 2016 season, he would have been in line for a similar deal as Cespedes. 4 years. Over $20 million a year.

Murphy took the Nationals offer because he said he wanted the security for his family. He played for $5 million in 2016.

Now, he will hit free agency again at the end of the 2018 season, at age 34. With the way free agency is going this season, it is hard to see Murphy getting anything more then a two year deal, if that. Howie Kendrick just signed a two year deal with the Washington Nationals for $7 million. Total.

Murphy could be looking at the same kind of deal. There are going to be several factors working against Dan Murphy when he becomes a free agent.

Teams seem to be valuing age and defense more carefully now. Two top free agents currently still on the market are Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Both were expecting big paydays, and both remain unsigned. Teams seem to be less interested in hitters that are negatives on defense and the base paths.

Another factor that could work against Murphy is the 2019 free agent class itself. With names like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson set to hit the market, interest in Murphy might be limited. If Murphy only accepted the qualifying offer, and then went on to sign a 4 or 5 year contract, he would not be competing for a contract with some of the top players in professional baseball.

Daniel Murphy showed up and played hard every day he wore a New York Mets uniform. He hustled. No Mets fan will ever forget Murph’s epic play off run in 2015. One that powered the Mets right into the World Series.

But like Murphy’s performance in that 2015 World Series, his Mets career is littered with miscues. Some were small. Some were bigger. The biggest miscue of Daniel Murphy’s Mets career though, was tuning down the Qualifying Offer.

A $60 million miscue.

 

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