Published on July 7th, 2014 | by Josh Chapdelaine0
Assessing the Parameters of a Daniel Murphy Extension
Daniel Murphy has been the subject of trade rumors dating back to 2011, making it somewhat surprising to hear rumblings of a contract extension. The second baseman has solidified himself as the New York Mets’ top offensive force – a blueprint of the perfect hitter for Citi Field. General Manager Sandy Alderson believes he has flexibility to retain the 2006 draft product for the long haul, and the two sides could work on an agreement this winter as Murphy enters his final year of arbitration.
Murphy’s defense has long been enigmatic at best, and below-par at worst. He has shown defensive ineptitude in the past, but has consistently improved his range since 2012. Excluding a small sample size in 2011, his UZR/150 has risen from -13.3 (A league-worst figure) in 2012, to -5.3 in 2013, before finally creeping above league average with a 2.0 mark in 2014. Nearly every defensive metric available supports that Murphy is no longer a liability, but merely league average.
The Jacksonville University product fits the cliche of a “natural hitter”; His stroke is smooth, he has managed to avoid prolonged slumps for the first time in his career, and will soon be able to be anointed a perennial .290/.330/.420 hitter. Murphy’s peripherals have all developed in desirable directions – He’s striking out less, walking more, and becoming more efficient on the bases.The National League leader in hits has also proved durable, playing in no less than 156 games since 2012.
The question should no longer be if the Mets desire to extend Murphy, but rather “What is fair value in both dollars and years?”.
Recent second base contract extensions of the high-end include Dan Uggla’s five-year, $62M deal with Atlanta in January 2011 and Brandon Phillips’ five-year, $72.5M pact with Cincinnati in April 2012. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Omar Infante’s four-year, $30.25 agreement with Detroit , Aaron Hill’s three-year, $33.5M contract with Arizona, and Matt Carpenter’s six-year, $52M extension with St. Louis stand out as more appropriate comparisons.
Sandy Alderson has long asserted maintaining payroll flexibility, and avoiding prohibitive contracts is a large part of that. Luckily, Murphy won’t command a contract anywhere near crippling for the franchise. Hill, only one year older than Murphy at the time of his extension, has a similar .271/.325/.429 career batting line. If the club were to extend Murphy in the four-to-six year timeframe that Alderson seeks, it appears an average annual value between $10-12.5M should be fair.
If the club believes a proven upgrade at the major league level is imminent (That does not include Wilmer Flores), that should be the only circumstance in which Murphy is shipped off to another team. Players like Murphy don’t often come through the doors, and his efforts deserve to be compensated with an extension prior to his final year of arbitration eligibility.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron
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