When it’s time to make a decision, you have to do so in the moment. You certainly aren’t afforded the luxury of hindsight to see how things play out in the future before you choose your path.
Which is exactly why – in the moment – the Mets made the right decision to let now-perennial MVP candidate, Daniel Murphy leave as a free agent following their 2015 World Series run.
There were certainly good things about Murphy during his 7 years as a Met: hard-nosed, decent hitter, willingness to play any position asked, but there were also some not-so-good things: space cadet on the bases, slap singles hitter and an inability to play any of those positions that well.
Personally, I always LIKED Murphy, but thought his supporters completely overvalued what kind of player he was while with the Mets. He was a singles hitter without a position. Despite his reputation for being a “professional hitter”, his career slashline was just .288/.331/.424 during his tenure in Queens. Not horrible, by any means, but certainly not the type of line that screams to re-sign a player as some kind of franchise cornerstone.
Murphy certainly endeared himself to the fan base during the Babe Ruth run he went on during the 2015 postseason, but as he came to free agency, no normal thinking person would have bestowed a long-term commitment on him for what amounted to one of the all-time hot streaks in the history of the game. By this point, the Mets had seven years of Daniel Murphy to grade him on and decided he was a nice, little player, but that they’d be better served moving on.
That wasn’t wrong…at the time. It just turned out that Murphy was just beginning to turn a corner in his career with a new approach at the plate that suddenly transformed him into an extra-base and run-producing machine once he became a member of the Nationals. Sometimes, these things happen, but it’s not like the Mets were the only team with this evaluation of Murphy.
Coming off his monster playoff run, reports and predictions were ready to dish out a 4 year, $60m deal for the second baseman, but he didn’t come close to that. Interest in his services was tepid at best, before he signed a 3 year, $37.5m deal with Washington. If the lords of baseball really believed that postseason Murphy was for real, he certainly would have cashed in at a significantly higher number. He wasn’t even the Nationals’ first choice to fill their hole at second, either. Before the signing, the Nats had been spurned by another free agent, Ben Zobrist and also thought they had traded for Brandon Phillips of the Reds before he invoked his no-trade rights to veto the deal.
Murph was available to anybody that could have wanted him and he was still the third choice for the team that eventually got him. The Mets decided to go make a deal for Neil Walker who, on paper, was – at worst – comparable with Murph offensively while looking to be a modest upgrade defensively. Walker has had injury problems (because…Mets) since coming over from Pittsburgh and hasn’t realized the hopes the team had for him while Murphy has erupted into a middle of the lineup juggernaut in the nation’s capital.
Hindsight, as they say on the streets, is 20/20, but you don’t have the benefit of such foresight when it comes to get a deal done. With everything Murphy had appeared to be during his seven years in Queens (not exactly a small sample size), the team made the right choice to let him walk. Every game that passes where Murph drives in what feels like a hundred runs against his former team only further enrages the section of the fan base that wanted him back, but from a pure baseball decision, it wasn’t an egregious move by any means. It just so happens that the Nationals hit the jackpot on a moderate bet.