As the New York Mets took on the Chicago Cubs this week, Mets fans have been reacting to an off putting and emotional site: Daniel Murphy in a Cubs uniform.
Some of the last, great memories Mets fans have of Murphy, is that of him slugging his way through the Cubs pitching staff in the 2015 League Championship Series. Murphy’s heroics that series led the Mets to the World Series for the first time since 2000, and Murphy to be named most valuable player.
It is weird seeing Murphy in a Cubs uniform. Him, in that Cubs uniform, just sparks that certain emotion deep down inside many fans. It was not that long ago that he was lifting the ball high and hard all around Wrigley Field while a member of the New York Mets. It is such a lasting impression, stamped into so many Mets fans collective memory. It was the last time Murphy was good, in a Mets uniform. And he was really, really good in that 2015 playoff run.
That .529 batting average, and hefty 1.294 slugging percentage for the League Championship Series are how legends are born. Most Mets fans can still even see each of the four home runs he hit that series.
It all eases the pain that followed. Murphy’s strong playoffs allow fans to push off to the side his dismal World Series performance. His slash line of .150/.320/.150 left a lot to be desired.
Murphy then turned down the Mets Qualifying Offer of $15.5 million for the 2016 season. He was quite clear that he wanted a long term deal in place, and often mentioned taking care of him family as a driving force behind his decision.
He went on to sign a three year, $37.5 million contract with the Washington Nationals, where Murphy was able to blossom fully. He was second in the Most Valuable Player award for 2016.
Murphy underwent micro-fracture knee surgery following the 2017 season, as he enters the final year of his contract with the Nationals. Starting on July 1, 2019, the Washington Nationals begin payments on parts of Murphy’s salary that he agreed to have deferred.
This will certainly be an interesting off season for Daniel Murphy. Coming off major knee surgery (his third) and starting the season late (he has appeared in just over 60 games this season, to date) is not the strongest way to approach free agency.
This could be the last time the New York Mets fans see of Daniel Murphy, on a regular basis. He makes $17.5 million in 2017. If the 2018 off season is anything like the 2017 off season, it could be a long road for Murphy to find a new club. With his limited fielding only getting worse since the surgery, a long expected move to the American League-and their designated hitter rule- might make the most sense.
Another move that might make perfect scenes is Murphy’s return to the Mets. Second base seemed to be the Mets biggest weakness going into next season. Murph could also slide over to first base, on occasion, to open playing time for others.
What do you think? Should the Mets look to bring Daniel Murphy back in 2018?