The Qualifying Offer Revisited

Daniel Murphy is slashing 348/387/598 for the Washington Nationals so far this season. He is leading the NL in batting average and if current trends continue, will be one of the front-runners for the league MVP. It isn’t a stretch to state that the Nats owe a large part of their current situation (first place in the NL East by six games) to his presence.

Meanwhile, his former team is languishing in a second place tie and looking at a difficult road back to the post-season. Injuries to a pair of their corner infielders are part of the reason for this. Both are positions Murphy can competently play. He wouldn’t win a Gold Glove at either and he is good for a major lapse or two, but with that slash line, no one could really complain.

It says here that if Murphy was still a Met that they and the Nats would be in each other’s current position as the baseball’s second half begins. I’ll wager that you can probably find a lot of off the record comments from Met officials and players expressing regret that Daniel got away. But I wonder how Murphy must feel about his current financial situation (and his agent).

In case you’ve forgotten, Murphy wrapped up a long and checkered Mets career with a stunning performance in the NLDS and NLCS. He became a free agent after the World Series. The Mets, eyeing younger options at second and believing they had permanent solutions at first and third, made a decision to move on from Daniel. They did however make him a Qualifying Offer, which is a one-year $16M contract. What the Mets really wanted was the draft pick. Murphy declined and signed a $37M deal with Washington on Christmas Eve.

In retrospect Murphy should have taken the Mets offer. His Washington salary for this year is half of what the QO was. He is due $12M next year and $18M in 2018. A little fun with math: Murphy’s deal cost him $8M this year. Coming off an MVP season this winter, wouldn’t he be in line for another $50m or so and an extra year? In other words, he has potentially cheated himself out of $20 to $28 million more in salary by taking Washington’s offer instead of New York’s.

So, there’s a new Murphy’s Law: don’t automatically reject the Qualifying Offer. Murphy was a good Met player coming off a stupendous post-season run. He followed conventional wisdom and rejected the offer. As a result he had to “settle” for a $37M offer from Washington. He could have doubled his 2015 salary for one year this year, while increasing his value exponentially for the next contract. He should fire his agent. The Nats as good as they are, are largely unknowns in their market behind Golden Boy Bryce. Murph would have had his face and his name everywhere here if he’d stayed. His loss and ours.

Oh and that draft pick the Mets got? It’s a pitcher with a sore arm.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. holmer July 15, 2016 at 8:05 am
    Good analysis except for the unfair shot about the pitcher with a sore arm. If it were that bad the Mets would not have given him a nearly million dollar bonus.
  2. Frank from Jersey July 15, 2016 at 8:45 am
    Also another reason to more strongly consider a qualifying offer is that maybe no other team takes you and you then have to settle for less money
  3. Steve S. July 15, 2016 at 11:34 am
    But would the “frugal” Mets have paid Murphy and also signed Cespedes? I doubt it.
  4. argonbunnies July 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm
    I think basically no one bet on Murph to do what he’s done — not the Mets, not the Nats, not his agent, not Murphy himself. His 2016 is a complete surprise to absolutely everyone.

    I don’t think hindsight is worth much on this one. If the Mets made a mistake at the time, it was counting on the collection of Wright, Flores and Campbell to man third base.

    If Murphy bludgeons the Mets for another 6 games and the Nats win the East by some small-ish margin, he should probably be the MVP. That’s how Chipper won it in ’99. Man, I hate this.

    • DaveSchneck July 16, 2016 at 11:10 pm
      For what it is worth, I recall Kevin Down both stating the Murph had a swing that could win a battling title, and working with to drive the ball with more authority. This may have just been a coach trying to build confidence, or perhaps at least one person is not so surprised on how well Murph’s bat has responded when positioned in front of the reigning MVP. I can’t blame the Mets here, but I do agree it is hard to swallow as a Met fan.
  5. Gregg from Hoboken July 16, 2016 at 7:40 am
    Steve is absolutely right. If the Mets retain Murphy, Cespedes isn’t signed. The gap between the Mets and Nats would have closed, but I believe the Mets would still be trailing.

    No sout grapes from me on this. Murphy bet on himself. And he lost. Cespedes did the same. And he won.

  6. DanB July 16, 2016 at 1:35 pm
    If the Mets signed Murphy and didn’t sign Cepedes, who would be hitting before and after him in the Met’s lineup? Would he have the same numbers? In addition, who’s to say Murphy signs the qualifying offer and has a career altering injury? That’s a lot of risk. His contract is short, this year guarantees him another big contract no matter what happens next. I think everyone made the right decision. The wrong decision was not getting a strong backup corner infielder in the off session.
  7. david July 19, 2016 at 1:16 am
    Maybe if we signed Murphy we don’t sign Cabrera who seems to have an allergic reaction when hitting with men in scoring position. Seriously, the guy is 0-27 and hasn’t had a hit with RISP in almost 2 months. He’s a great guy but he is really hurting the team as an automatic out with RISP. Maybe he’s the 8 hitter, not the 2 or 6 hitter?

    The Mets have a fatal flaw and the only ways to fix it are a total rejig of the current lineup or new personnel. While I was unwilling to wave the white flag when Capwell suggested it was time, I do think the Mets need to make a MAJOR trade. It is time to deal from the starting roster and I for one think Walker and/or Cabrera are legitimate trade chips. With Reyes, Reynolds, Herrera, and Flores we will be ok and Sandy now has to show some creativity and courage even if it means trading someone he does not want to such as Lagares, Nimmo, Conforto, Granderson, or Blevins.

  8. TexasGusCC July 19, 2016 at 1:27 am
    Disagree with the masses. Rather both Murphy and Cespedes would have been Mets less de Aza and Bastardo. That’s $12MM right there. Walker’s $10MM wouldn’t be here either, and hopefully Niese could have been gotten for those prospects Huntington wishes he gave instead.
  9. Peter Hyatt July 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm
    Sandy didn’t offer him a deal because he stood up to Sandy on marriage.