Daniel Murphy spent the first seven years of his big league career in the National League East with the Mets, but entered his final season before free agency uncertain that desire would be fulfilled.
Despite stating his desire to return to the club throughout the last season, the club decided to go in a different direction from Murphy this winter. The Mets failed in their pursuit for Ben Zobrist, and ultimately traded for one year of control in Neil Walker from the Pirates, ending any possibility of a reunion with Murphy.
As it turns out, Murphy won’t be moving too far away, and will be spending a good portion of the next three years contending with his former team for supremacy in the National League East.
Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio is reporting Murphy has agreed to sign a three-year deal with the Nationals, pending a physical.
Murphy received a qualifying offer from the Mets, so the Nationals will lose their first round pick in the 2016 amateur draft, and the Mets will gain a second pick – this one in the compensation round – before the second round of the draft. They will now pick 21st and 29th.
Assistant GM John Ricco said in early December the Mets were keeping tabs on Murphy as a fallback to Zobrist. But a reunion was never likely.
For years, people from within the organization have made no mention of Murphy’s name when discussing the future of second base. All of the talk about his internal replacement has surrounded Dilson Herrera, who is more athletic, has speed, better upside defensively, and has the potential to hit for more power.
Of course, the Mets pursued options in the trade and free agent market, but that only furthers the notion that the club was really through with Murphy, especially since the club really needs to replenish their farm system with upper-tier talent in the draft.
Remember, the Mets relinquished their first-round pick in the 2015 draft for signing Michael Cuddyer in November, 2014. They also traded two prospects to acquire three months of Yoenis Cespedes, and another notable pitching prospect to acquire – in all probability – three months of Tyler Clippard.
That Murphy is going to the Nationals stings a little bit, but he had to sign somewhere and GM Mike Rizzo has made no secret about his desire to procure an infielder this winter. He could play second base or third base for Washington, depending on what they decide to do with Anthony Rendon.
He can also play first base if Ryan Zimmerman has more injury problems.
Certainly, this is a good fit for Murphy.
He had a magical run through the postseason, launching seven home runs and single-handedly carrying the Mets offense to two series wins against the Dodgers and Cubs. His performance was one for the ages and will go down in the record books as one of the greatest single postseason performances of all-time.
Murphy also did everything the club asked him to do during his tenure in Flushing. He was asked to learn left field on the fly in 2009, and he did that without hesitation while embarrassing himself in the process. He then worked himself to the bone with Tim Teufel to become as good of a second baseman as he could be, and that is a testament to his work ethic and loyalty to his team.
From a character perspective, the Nationals are getting an experienced leader, which has value regardless of how well he performs on the field.
It will be interesting to see what affect this change has on him, but he’s shown an ability and willingness to adapt without hesitation. That Murphy is staying in familiar territory will unquestionably benefit him.
He and his family should have nothing but success going forward – he deserves that.