The deadline to either accept or reject a club’s $15.8 million qualifying offer came and went on Friday afternoon, with only three players accepting their club’s bid to retain them for the 2016 season.
Neither of them was Daniel Murphy, according to multiple reports. If he had accepted it, Murphy would have gotten more than a $7 million raise over his 2015 salary if he had accepted.
Only Astros OF Colby Rasmus, Dodgers LHP Brett Anderson and Orioles C Matt Wieters accepted their qualifying offers in 2015, becoming the first ever to do so since it was introduced in 2012.
The Mets – at the very least – can now choose a number of paths in order to upgrade their middle infield, a necessity both offensively and defensively for 2016.
As for Murphy, made the logically sound business choice to decline the qualifying offer.
By accepting it, he would have done so when his value is at an all-time high. He put together a season in which eight of his career-high 14 home runs tied or gave the Mets the lead. He then hit seven postseason home runs, helping to carry the Mets past the Dodgers and the Cubs and into the World Series.
So Murphy will remain on the open market and the Mets will automatically receive a compensation pick after the first round of the 2016 amateur draft in June if he signs elsewhere.
The Mets could still conceivably workout a long-term deal with Murphy. He has been very public in his desire to stay with the Mets. If that happens, the Mets would not receive a compensation pick in the draft.
In talking with people all through the organization, there isn’t anyone who includes Murphy’s name in the discussion over the future of second base for the Mets. That’s largely because they feel Dilson Herrera is the superior talent with a higher upside.
Just this past week at the GM Meetings, Mets Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Paul DePodesta raved about Herrera.
“He’s always hit,” DePodesta said about Herrera. “He’s got excellent bat speed. He’s shown some control of the strike zone. For a smaller guy, he does a lot of damage. And he also plays with a lot of life. This is a guy with a lot of energy, both offensively and defensively. I think it rubs off on his teammates.”
Then again, Murphy’s more of a sure bet. He’s a contact hitter who plays with a lot of energy. Sometimes that energy gets the best of him as it forces him to try and do too much, whether it’s play above his head defensively or do something foolish on the bases, and son. But he’s a known quantity and a proven success in New York, something which has a lot of value, especially from a guy who has been loyal without hesitation and has done everything the organization has asked him to do, even if it meant falling on his face in sheer embarrassment.
Of course, then there’s the question of the value game, and whether or not Herrera at the league minimum is worth the growing pains that will come with his development at the big league level over what will likely need to be a three, four, or five year deal in the $10-14 million per year range for Murphy, a player who was never really in their future plans anyway.
The Mets could also pursue another free agent, such as Ben Zobrist who would be an upgrade over Murphy and another sure bet over Herrera. He’s a switch hitter who is well versed at a number of positions – including second base and shortstop – and might come at a similar cost to Murphy.
Original post, 10:13 am, updated 3:16 pm, 5:00 pm