With Mets Signing Brooks Conrad, Are Daniel Murphy’s Days Numbered?

The Mets have signed journeyman utility man Brooks Conrad to a minor-league contract and assigned him to the Las Vegas 51s.

After many years as a “AAAA” player, Conrad had a strong year in Japan in 2013, then returned to minor-league stardom in 2014, posting an .878 OPS in 133 games for El Paso. An undersized switch-hitter who plays multiple positions with varying levels of mediocrity, Conrad has been a slugger in the PCL several times over and delights fans with high energy, grit, and an always-filthy uniform. It’s unknown whether the 35-year-old will ever wear the orange and blue in Flushing, but he’s an ideal player for Wally Backman and will be a viable replacement when/if the Mets promote Dilson Herrera and/or Matt Reynolds. In fact, one way to describe Conrad would be as a minor-league version of Wally Backman with power. Despite Conrad’s ability to own PCL pitchers, draw walks, steal bases, and be an offensive sparkplug, his inability to make contact against MLBers, lack of defensive skills, and a weak arm have prevented Conrad from making it in the big leagues.

Hmm … could Herrera or Reynolds be on the way up? Particularly with Daniel Murphy hitting below the Mendoza Line and giving up more runs on defense than he’s providing on offense?

What do you think? Is there more to this signing than putting a smile on Wally Backman‘s face? Could this be a preemptive move to the promotion of Herrera and the benching — or jettisoning — of Murphy? Post your thoughts in the comments.

The MetsToday news staff consists of various contributors and fact-checkers.
  1. Joe Gomes April 27, 2015 at 11:34 am
    It is an interesting signing but I don’t think the Mets are going to give up on Murphy this early. If it carries into mid May, then you can see a change.
  2. Bat April 27, 2015 at 1:00 pm
    I think this guy is just intended to be the backup 2B and SS at AAA and reading anything else into it, like that the Mets are planning to jettison Murphy, is a big leap and an unlikely conclusion.
  3. Peacock Pride April 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm
    Please come back, Joe.
  4. Jim Lawlor April 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm
    Murphy’s days are numbered regardless. He’s traded or gone by year end anyway, so having some extras at AAA makes sense.
  5. argonbunnies April 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm
    I’m not sure why Conrad would sign with the 51s, who already have Herrera, Reynolds, Muno and Tovar as infield prospects, not to mention Brandon Allen at 1B, plus a guy in Alex Castellanos who is basically identical to Brooks (AAA masher). Any offers the Mets made of playing time would pretty much HAVE to be contingent on a trade, wouldn’t they?

    …unless perhaps the plan is to play Conrad for 10 days or so until Wright comes off the DL and Muno gets sent back down. In which case, Conrad gets to slug in the thin air for a week and hope to catch the eye of another team. Sounds like a rough way to go, but maybe Conrad didn’t enjoy playing in Japan and this is his best option.

    Collins clearly likes Murphy, so any change at 2B would be coming from Alderson. Moving Murph now would clearly be selling low, but Sandy generally hasn’t done a good job of selling high, so I’d believe it. A dump for some marginal prospect wouldn’t surprise me as long as they can find a taker for Murphy’s salary. It’s possible that management wanted to dump that money anyway, and now Murphy’s slump and the team’s success has given them an excuse, minimizing backlash.

    • Joe Janish April 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm
      The Conrad signing could be apropos of nothing. It could be something to help sell tickets in Las Vegas. It could be a favor someone inside the Mets is giving to Conrad. It could be that Wally wanted him. It could be one of those Crash Davis signings to help along the youngins.

      If not any of the above, I have two theories. First, that the Mets front office genuinely believes Conrad could be a low-risk, high-reward asset. Surely they don’t think he’ll be good enough to start in MLB, but they may point to his high walk rates, occasional power, ability to play multiple positions, and switch-hittingness and think, “hey, this guy could be a perfect pinch-hitter / 25th man down the stretch.”

      Theory two is that a deal is brewing involving Murphy and Gee to unload salary and help some other team that needs a starter and a super-sub, with the Mets making room for Montero and Herrera. Cardinals or Giants might be good fits?

      • DaveSchneck April 27, 2015 at 8:16 pm
        Hey Joe,
        Nice to hear from you. My memory of Conrad is of him doing a Daniel Murphy fielding impression to single-handedly help eliminate his Atlanta Braves from a playoff series, although I can’t remember the year.

        I agree with Jim Lawlor above, Murph’s days were numbered long ago, and his fielding has sunk to an all-time low (which is really really low) and is a huge liability. If Hererra continues hitting .370 out west he will force a move. Despite the Murph negativity, I wouldn’t give him away. If the Mets continue to win, and Hererra or Reynolds forces his way onto the team, Murph would be a good lefty bat off the bench for the Mets. Expensive at $8 million, but that salary is already built into the budget, and his replacement would be a league minimum salary.

  6. Bat April 27, 2015 at 10:22 pm
    Janish returns!

    And Murphy silences his critics above (a bit) by launching a ninth inning three run homer against Cishek.