Will Mets Trade Daniel Murphy?

Yesterday Buster Olney suggested that Dan Murphy could be a fit for the Tampa Bay Rays, and that the Rays could have the young pitching that the Mets desire.

To be clear, this was not a rumor that Olney heard, but merely an idea that he proposed as realistically plausible. This isn’t the first theory focused on a trade of Murphy to another club; in fact there have been several this winter. But let’s consider this — would the Mets trade Daniel Murphy, and if they did, would they get a worthwhile return for him?

Right now could be the time that Murphy’s value is at an all-time peak — even with the questions surrounding his knee injury. Though his accident was freak, a sprained knee isn’t career-threatening, is unlikely to affect his swing, and though it may affect his running speed and mobility, those are not aspects of his game that others take into strong consideration when evaluating his overall value. At this moment, Murphy is a valuable asset because his contract is still cheap, he’s a few years away from free agency, and he just hit .320. with a .362 OBP. But what would a team like the Rays give up for Murphy? The name Wade Davis has been mentioned, and considering the Mets’ finances he could be a good fit as his salary remains fairly cheap in 2012 ($1.5M) and 2013 ($2.8M) before jumping to nearly $5M in 2014. But, that also makes Davis a hot commodity, so I’d assume a straight-up deal for Murphy is unlikely. Another pitcher mentioned is Jeff Niemann, who I believe has yet to have his arbitration hearing (can anyone confirm?) and may be rewarded with a salary near $3M — is that too rich for the cash-strapped Mets? It might be. If not Niemann or Davis, who else might the Rays part with in return for Murphy? I’m not too familiar with Tampa Bay’s personnel — what’s your suggestion?

On the other hand, if you believe Murphy can hit .320 (or higher) again, then maybe his peak value is later this year — i.e., at the July deadline.

Finally, there is the thought that Murphy — because of his being inexpensive and under team control — stays in Flushing, perhaps to slide over to 3B when/if David Wright is dealt. Not to mention, Murphy provides insurance against Ike Davis‘ return from injury (though, for both infield corners, the Mets also have Zach Lutz and Josh Satin waiting in the wings). And of course there is still the fantasy that Murphy can be a capable everyday Major League second baseman.

What say you? Will Murphy go or stay? If he’s traded, is Tampa Bay a realistic possibility? For whom? Or is there another landing spot that makes sense? Post your ideas in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy January 6, 2012 at 10:29 am
    Look at the trades master Sandy has worked as a Met GM. Beltran, wasn’t going to re-sign him. KROD because he couldn’t get Boras or wouldn’t ask Boras to modify contract, Pagan last year of arbitration. Murohy is not a salary related player until his second year of arb, or maybe first if the Wilpons are even more desperate than they are today. Murphy isn’t getting traded for a while.
    Sandy did make one player related trade. he gave us the stiff Hu for a minor league pitcher. Based on his one “big” move, does anyone want him making more moves.
    • mistermet January 7, 2012 at 1:47 am
      Um what? Hu wasn’t very good but is this team really missing or ever going to miss Mike Antonini?

      I wouldn’t go making mountains out of molehills. Save the outrage for when it’s really deserved.

      • Izzy January 7, 2012 at 8:23 am
        You miss the point of course, the GM has never been able to win a trade, and his afrogant false ego shoved a bum like Hu on the major league roster until the fan base and media humiliated him enough that forced him to rid Hu from Queens. the point is Sandy Alderson sucks.
  2. MikeT January 6, 2012 at 11:22 am
    I’ve been thinking this for months. Murphy really does not have a place on this team. He’s better at third than 2nd, and better at first defensively than 3rd, but his bat holds up best at 3rd. The outfield is not a place he should go. So the logical solution is to move him, ideally for pitching. The Rays are stacked with pitching. If the Rays truly wanted Murphy then I know the Mets can find a deal they like. As for Murphy’s role on the Mets, Duda is just as likely to take over for Ike Davis if he goes out for a long period of time. The Mets might be entertaining what to do with Wright, but to keep Murphy around in case they wish to move him is not necessarily the best strategy… I think I’d prefer the pitching if they can get it.
  3. NormE January 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm
    1. At this juncture the Mets are all about inexpensive contracts. Thus, Murphy will only be dealt for players (preferably pitchers) with similar low salaries.

    2. No one really knows what the Mets will do with David Wright, or when they will do it. As the Wilpon’s economic picture get darker the pressure to trade Wright’s contract will also increase. Murphy is the “heir apparent” should Wright go, but as Mike T. said “I think I’d prefer the pitching if they can get it.”

  4. SiddFinch January 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm
    I would make that trade. The Rays are knee deep in quality pitchers and that’s one the Mets’ biggest needs.
  5. Mike B January 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm
    Yes trade Murph, He is a great guy but not the answer for this team at any position.
  6. Dave January 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm
    First of all, it’s important to remember this scenario has been entirely dreamed up by Buster Olney, whose other great ideas include–in the wake of the Buster Posey injury–the suggestion that runners attempting to score should be required to stop 30 feet from home plate and change into a gingham dress and a sun bonnet before begging the catcher’s pardon.

    Furthermore, there is zero logic in trading a young player who is a proven big-league hitter (Murph was 5th in the league at the time of his injury) for a pitcher who projects to no more than a mid-rotation journeyman.

    The current trend among the sports-pundit class (which has begun to tire of merely ridiculing the Mets) is to progress the notion that they know how to “fix” the Mets, which generally means suggesting the Mets rid themselves of any player of value in exchange for any young player available. Any player at all. There’s no risk in it, of course, since their suggestions are never heeded.

  7. DaveSchneck January 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm
    I like the Irish Hammer and the intensity he brings, even without a position. Also, although runs scored was good in 2011, the Mets really need his offense with Reyes and Beltran gone. That said, if Tampa will trade Davis or Niemann straight up for Murph, they have to do it as the pitching need is too great and they are affordable, solid MLB arms, perhaps with some up side.
  8. HobieLandrith January 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm
    “there is zero logic in trading a young player who is a proven big-league hitter (Murph was 5th in the league at the time of his injury) for a pitcher who projects to no more than a mid-rotation journeyman.”

    Wow are you kidding? Niemann and Davis put up those numbers in the AL EAST, and anyone who can pitch “mid rotation” is hardly a “journeyman”. Isn’t “mid rotation” a #3 starter? If they’re “journeymen” then what the heck do you call the Mets’ collection of #4s and #5s?

    I’d trade Murphy for Davis or Niemann in a heartbeat, regardless of whatever “logic” you’re referring to.

    • DaveSchneck January 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm
      Agreed. Niemann or Davis would arguably become the Mets 2nd best pitcher, and that’s with a healthy Santana. I don’t see Tampa doing it.
    • JoeJP January 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm
      I assume you are “listening” to argonbunnies below, but disagree with him this time. 🙂
  9. MCPO January 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm
    Yes, trade Murphy to Tampa. Murphy is defensively challenged and the Rays need a full time inexpensive DH/1st Baseman. Murphy fills both needs. I would suggest trading Murphy straight up for BJ Upton. The Rays have been dangling Upton since last summer and they could always slide Desmond Jennings over to CF after the trade. This would allow the Mets to have a great defensive CF with some pop in his bat and speed on the base paths along with allowing Torres to be the Mets 4th outfielder for defensive purposes in later ininings for Bay and Duda. Upton would be a little bit more expensive, $4.5M but it will not break the bank for the cash strapped Wipon’s.
  10. Glenn January 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm
    The Mets play in the NL where runs are at a premium plus they have a pitching staff that pitches to contact. That being the case, defense is really important and Murphy is not a good defensive player. I don’t trade Murphy now, but If Havens or Valdespin is ready by mid season, I trade Murph for pitching, because pitching is the Mets biggest liability. Davis and Niemann won in the AL East so their skills translate to success in the NL. I don’t want Murphy at 3b. He is a worst defender than Wright and not enough power for the position.
  11. argonbunnies January 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm
    If we trade Murph for young pitching, it should be young pitching with upside, not Wade frickin’ Davis.

    As for B.J. Upton, overall he’s a good player, but I don’t think he’s good enough to justify adding a selfish underachiever to our mentally fragile team.

    My target would be someone like Jeurys Familia. Good stuff, good K rate, uncertain command and secondary stuff, survived in AA, could yet boom or bust. If the Rays have someone like that, they could probably spare them.

  12. argonbunnies January 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm
    As for Murph himself, I’ve seen him be a tough out who’ll take his walks, and I’ve seen him hit tons of singles, and I’ve seen him launch inside pitches into the Pepsi porch, and it’s hard for me not to dream of him doing all three at the same time. The guy’s just over 1000 PAs into his MLB career, and he may have some upside left.

    He may also be unable to do more than one of the above at any given time, leaving him a barely average hitter at the few positions he can even kinda play, and please trade him now while he’s got value.

    Which is it? I dunno. But I like the guy, and I like his attitude, so I’m much more inclined to believe the former (remaining upside) than I am with, say, Pelfrey.

  13. Pete M January 7, 2012 at 1:21 am
    What are the chances of getting Ichiro from Seattle?
    Getting a guy like him for Murphy and other pieces would put some extra cash in the organizations pockets by way of ticket and jersey sales.
    He would be a perfect replacement for Reyes at the top of the order and could fit as an everyday CF.

    If not him why not go after Soriano who the Cubs would pay most of his salary and put him back at second base where he began his career and thrived.

    • Dan January 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm
      Soriano would be a disaster at 2nd.
  14. Jujo January 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    If Murphy is traded, who becomes the #2 hitter in the lineup? I assume we need someone who will hit well enough to have a .350 OBP there. Torres will likely be .330 OBP. Can Tejada handle the #2 slot? And also, if Murphy traded for Neimann who plays 2B? Is that Turner? I agree that Murphy may be at his high for trade value right now and an extra Rays pitcher is sound. My concern becomes that the offense which has lost Reyes and Beltran loses another table setter. I would stay away from Upton, Ichiro and Soriano. The Mets can’t afford them, and if they could they should shoot for other better talent next year,
  15. Joel W January 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm
    What happened to the talk that Murphy was going to be traded to the Tigers?
  16. Carl January 9, 2012 at 8:37 am
    I don’t think any more moves will happen until the trade deadline. My predictions:

    1. Murphy’s value to the team depends on what happens with Wright and Reese Havens. If Havens deserves a callup and Wright is not traded Murphy is gone. If there is an open spot at 1B, 2B, or 3B for whatever reason Murphy stays.

    2. If the team is at or above .500 and within 5 games of a playoff spot Wright is not traded.

    3. If Duda hits well, but still sucks at OF defense, he will be traded to a team with a 1B/DH need.

    I think those will be the only tradeable pieces this year, besides maybe a bullpen arm or two if we are really out of the race.