Murphy has been the Mets' unsung hero this October, homering for his fifth time tonight in the playoffs.
Already a hot topic is whether the Mets should extend Murphy a qualifying offer, a one-year, $15.8 million deal. If he declines the offer, then the Mets get a first round draft pick if he signs elsewhere. My thought is that if he accepts the offer (still no player has), the Mets could handle the salary on their payroll for just one season, even if Murphy is $2-4 million overpaid.
Murphy, traditionally the Mets' second baseman, also provides a plus with his versatility, also being able to play third and first base if needed. That should also help his value, mostly due to the fact that that could bring more teams into play for his services.
Using MLB Trade Rumors' transaction tracker, I have determined what I believe could be considered a good, comparable contract to what Murphy could get this offseason.
Nick Swisher: Four-years, $56 million ($14 million AAV)
Chase Headley: Four-years, $52 million ($13 million AAV)
Aramis Ramirez: Three-years, $36 million ($12 million AAV)
Omar Infante: Four-years, $30.25 million ($7.56 million AAV)
It's really hard for me to imagine Murphy getting Infante-type money, especially considering the lack of depth of second basemen on the free agent market. Generally speaking, Murphy is a guy who could fit in the $10-15 million AAV range, depending on how well teams value his power.
One scout told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that Murphy “has been on everything, pulled for power more than I can ever remember and made me start to think if you put him in the right stadium would some of all those doubles he hits every year turn into 20-plus homers annually?”
Murphy, statistically-speaking, has already been an above-average player regardless of his home run totals. According to FanGraphs, Murphy has posted Wins Above Replacement totals of 3.1, 2.5, and 2.5 over the past three years, respectively.
If a team believed that they could be buying into Murphy at a minimum of 5-6 Wins Above Replacement over the next three to four seasons and a maximum (depending on his power totals) of a 9-11 Wins Above Replacement, we could possibly see Murphy's free agent contract balloon above Headley's and Swisher's.
With everything lining up the way it has been, coupled with the fact that Murphy has been consistently solid over the past three seasons, he could be in for a fairly large payday at the end of this season. My prediction is that Murphy signs a four-year, $60 million contract as a first-time free agent this offseason.
So what does this all have to do with the Mets? I personally think this means they should extend Murphy a qualifying offer this offseason. If he re-signs the deal, they could be paying a tad bit more than he would be getting as a free agent for his production totals. However, it's just a one-year deal. If he declines (which is still way more likelier), the Mets can guarantee themselves another first round pick in next year's draft. Decisions like these can make or break front offices.
We will have to see how it all plays out, but the winner of these playoffs might not be the Mets, but it will surely be Daniel Murphy.