Mets in Difficult Spot With Impending Free Agent Murphy

By Dave Martin
Dave Martin
Dave Martin
Dave Martin is a New-York based writer as well as editor. He is the sports editor for the Epoch Times and is a consultant to private writers.
October 22, 2015 Updated: October 22, 2015

Daniel Murphy is pretty incredible—or maybe he’s just cool in the clutch. A career .288 hitter who’s never hit more than 14 home runs in any of his six seasons in the majors, the free-agent-to-be homered in each of the four high-pressure NLCS games, after previously hitting three out of the park in the five-game NLDS against the Dodgers, to help lead the Mets to their first World Series since 2000.

All told his current postseason batting line of .421/.436/1.026 (average/on-base/slugging) with 7 home runs and 11 RBIs in 9 games is almost unheard of on baseball’s biggest stage. Only All-Star players like Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltrán have put up playoff numbers similar to Murphy’s over the last 20 years—though Bonds and Beltrán were already accomplished sluggers. With 62 total home runs in six-plus seasons, Murphy isn’t.

What Murphy is though, is a free man able to sign with anyone come the end of the postseason and the Mets will have to make a decision on what to offer the 30-year-old. Is he the solid, but not spectacular, infielder that averages 10 home runs a season or the postseason hero, who’s about to break out in the regular season?

Technically he’s both and it makes for a tough value to assign to him. Certainly he’ll want a raise from the $8 million he’s made this season though.

Previously, there have been players who’ve broken out similar to Murphy in the postseason, but their stars never really took off in the regular season. Players like 2001 NLCS MVP Craig Counsel and 2002 ALCS MVP Adam Kennedy had a couple of good postseason runs but they never continued that torrid hitting in the regular season.

Cody Ross won the 2010 NLCS MVP with the Giants after hitting .350/.435/.950 with three home runs in six games—in his only playoff appearance—yet Ross never put up those numbers in the regular season.

Four years ago, David Freese became a postseason hero for the Cardinals. The third baseman came out of nowhere to win both NLCS and World Series MVP honors, hitting a combined .397/.465/.794 with 5 home runs, 21 RBIs, and even drawing an intentional walk in 18 playoff games. The next year, his first full season in the bigs, Freese made the All-Star team, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 79 runs along with a .293 average.

But Freese regressed after that, never hitting higher than .262 or more than 14 home runs in a season.

What does all this mean for the Mets who would like to bring back their postseason hero—and new fan favorite—while remaining fiscally responsible?

It means, he’s probably not going to continue this run into next year and the Mets would be crazy to pay him as such.

Barring a complete World Series collapse by Murphy, New York would be wise to to offer him the now widely reported one-year qualifying offer of $15.8 million—which no free-agent-to-be has ever accepted—and go from there. If he declines the offer and leaves for a crazier deal, they’ll take a hit from the fans for not re-signing such a popular figure, while also getting a compensatory draft pick. If he accepts, they get a low-risk deal (for one year) and can evaluate him after 2016.

Dave Martin
Dave Martin is a New-York based writer as well as editor. He is the sports editor for the Epoch Times and is a consultant to private writers.