Following the 2014 season, longtime Mets infielder Daniel Murphy will once again be arbitration eligible and in need of a new contract heading into his seventh MLB season. One of the steadiest Mets in the lineup over the past few seasons, "Murph" has been an excellent number 2 hitter, setting the table for the likes of David Wright and Curtis Granderson in the big RBI positions. Although not a great fielder, Murphy's bat has justified his place in the starting lineup but at the same time, his value has made him a hot topic during trade rumor season. At just $5.7M, Murphy is making the most of any season in his career and is due for a raise along with a multi-year commitment from the Mets.
Offense from second base is tough to come by and a quick look at the 2014 rankings shows you just how good Murphy is in comparison to his colleagues. Amongst big league second basemen in 2014, Murphy is third in batting average (.308), seventh in OPS (.761), tied for third in doubles (10) and tied for fifth in runs scored (20). Batting second in the order doesn't provide many RBI opportunities but Murphy still ranks twelfth with eleven RBI through 133 at-bats.
Former Brave Martin Prado is one of the most comparable infielders in the Majors when trying to determine what Murphy should be paid. Prior to the 2013 season at age 29, the second/third baseman signed a four-year, $40M contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Signing after his fifth full MLB season, Prado held a career batting average of .295 with 52 homers and 286 RBI. With five-plus seasons under his belt, Murph currently has a career .291 batting average with 40 homers and 283 RBI.
Few Mets in recent years have been as reliable and consistent as Murphy, appearing in 161 games in 2013 and posting no lower than a .286 average over the past three seasons. While Murphy has finally settled into full time work at second base and occasionally first, he's also proven to be able to play third base and left field when needed. While not a major power threat, Murphy has ranked amongst the team leaders in doubles each of the past three years, leading the ballclub with 38 in 2013.
While Wilmer Flores appears to be big league ready with the bat, he finds himself in a spot similar to Murphy, without a true position to play at the MLB level. Murph is an attractive trade piece but if he can be locked up for 4-5 years at around $10-12 M a year, I would absolutely take that contract, as he's been a welcome steadying presence at second after years of a rotating cast that included the likes of Luis Castillo, Damion Easley, Roberto Alomar and Jose Valentin. The Mets should consider offers that would improve the team but at the end of the day, they've got a commodity and with a lineup that stuggles to find consistency, Murph has certainly been a constant.
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