When the New York Mets parted ways with Daniel Murphy after the 2015 season, many were curious about why the team wouldn’t commit to him long term after his historic postseason performance, which carried them from wild card winners to NL Champions.
The Mets did offer Murphy a one-year qualifying offer worth $15.8 million which he would wisely reject. Murphy ended up signing with the Washington Nationals for three years at $37.5 million and Met fans smelled trouble right away. Murphy was going to haunt them for next few years.
Many times, these signings end up being docile annoyances for all involved, but this one was different. Murphy was just coming into his own as a hitter. Sure, he was a man without a natural position who was a butcher in the field most games, but he had become one of the game’s most dangerous hitters. Now he would be in the Nationals’ dugout alongside Bryce Harper, creating a formidable tandem for the Mets’ pitchers to deal with.
A little over a year later, Murphy is pounding the Mets better than any player has pounded his former team in baseball history. He is absolutely killing them, and for a team that’s already half-dead, you can imagine that’s not a good thing if you’re the Mets.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Murphy…. “is batting .405 (49 for 121) against the Mets since leaving them after the 2015 season. That is the highest career average for any active player versus a team for which he formerly played (minimum: 100 at-bats). The next-highest such average among current players belongs to Matt Holliday, who is hitting .378 against the Rockies. No other active player owns a .350-or-higher average––again, in at least 100 at-bats––against a former team.
Murphy’s total of 34 RBIs against the Mets since 2016 is the second-highest for any major-league player versus a particular team over that span; Nolan Arenado has driven in 40 runs against the Giants over the last two seasons.”
The Mets decided to lowball Murphy because they no place to play him, and after his paltry showing in the 2015 World Series (3-for-20, two key fielding errors), GM Sandy Alderson felt the team would be better without him. They had David Wright back healthy at third base and decided to acquire Neil Walker from Pittsburgh to play second. Lucas Duda was locked into first base, so Murphy had no place to play. Little did Alderson know that Washington, one of the teams who have a ton of expendable cash these days, would swoop in and snatch Murphy out from under him.
To Alderson’s credit, Walker has proven to be a solid acquisition. He is an excellent second baseman who provides enough offense to offset Murphy at times. But the Mets could have used Murphy elsewhere. Wright would end up back on the DL and Duda would prove to be unreliable as well. Murphy could have filled in for those players, and along with Walker, SS Astrubal Cabrera, OFs Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce would have tipped the scales in the Mets’ favor. Now Washington enjoys the imbalance.
The Mets did get a compensatory draft pick out of the deal. That ended up being UConn LHP Anthony Kay, who they selected 31st overall in the 2016 MLB Draft. And, as the Mets’ luck would have it, Kay is on the shelf after undergoing Tommy John surgery over the winter.
Meanwhile, the struggling Mets can only take cover every time they face the Nationals. Since Murphy switched uniforms, the Mets are 10-20 against Washington. If you ever wonder why the Mets are where they are in the standings, look no farther than the Murph.