Tag: Daniel Murphy

How the MLB Postseason Is Changing Offseason Free Agency, Trade Markets

For all the numbers, data, formulas and eyeball scouting, the decision-makers in Major League Baseball are still human—sometimes.

They are prone to non-analytical judgments. They have feelings. They watch the postseason like everyone else. They feel the ups and the downs, and they see and feel the emotion involved with it all.

The point being, every year we see how the postseason can alter the free-agent and trade markets during the winter. Whether a player’s value drops or rises because of playoff performance, or a team realizes a weakness it needs to address, the postseason annually shifts the offseason landscape, even if it’s just a little bit.

Pablo Sandoval benefitted from this last year. After a playoff run with the San Francisco Giants that saw him bat .366/.423/.465 with an .888 OPS despite not hitting a home run, Sandoval’s value soared in the eyes of at least one organization, and the Boston Red Sox ended up paying him $95 million over five years.

It worked in the opposite way for James Shields. After he had a 6.12 ERA in five playoff starts for the Kansas City Royals last fall, Shields suddenly became even older, and the innings on his arm became heavier. Once seen as a premier free-agent pitcher, the right-hander waited until February before signing a four-year, $75 million deal with the San Diego Padres while other pitchers have routinely surpassed nine figures—age played a big role in those signings, but some had weaker track records than Shields.

We are nearly through this year’s postseason, and the same storylines have already played out for some players and teams. The market has been altered based on early postseason exits and individual performances. Eventually track records and age are the most important things in evaluating these situations, but there is no doubt the postseason can help or hurt certain cases.


Impact on Free Agency

The top free agents playing in this postseason were David Price, Zack Greinke, Yoenis Cespedes and Jason Heyward, in random order. None of them have used these playoffs to impact their future earnings more than Price, but keep in mind it always takes only one team to be willing to pay a top-end ticket.

It could be argued that through the regular season, Price was the top starter on the open market. After posting a 2.45 ERA and 161 ERA+, the left-hander could have been looking for a contract topping $200 million, putting him in the neighborhood of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.

However, Price has a 7.02 ERA in this postseason, and it is 5.65 over his last eight playoff appearances. He has been so questionable, the Toronto Blue Jays had the option of saving Price for a series-deciding Game 5 start in the American League Division Series, but they elected to use Price in relief instead and start Marcus Stroman in Game 5. That has given Price just two starts through Toronto’s first nine 10 games, which is more like a No. 3 or 4 starter rather than an ace.

Once again, though, it only takes one team willing to pay. With the Los Angeles Dodgers having their lack of rotation depth exposed in the National League Division Series and the New York Yankees lacking depth all season, Price can market himself to two of the richest franchises in sports history.

Greinke, Cespedes and Heyward have not done a whole lot to alter their stocks, although Heyward’s 1.080 OPS in 16 NLDS plate appearances was impressive. One man who has: New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Murphy is hitting .421/.436/1.026 this postseason with an uncharacteristic seven home runs in nine games. Even with objective and informed front offices, that production could hold some weight. Then again, the fact that the Mets are reportedly unwilling to re-sign Murphy is a huge albatross on his eventual value.

“He’s been great, really great,” a source told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, “but it changes nothing.” 

Further hurting Murphy’s value is that the Mets now plan to make him a qualifying offer of $15.8 million because he’s been so good in the postseason, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s likely a PR decision since the Mets do not want to pay him that much while they have a seemingly capable second base prospect in Dilson Herrera waiting his turn, but ultimately it could mean Murphy is shied away from because he would be tied to draft compensation.

His great postseason to this point has served him well, but it might also hurt him by pulling in a qualifying offer. Then again, there are always the Yankees with their hole at second base and short right field porch.

Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada has also helped his stock in this postseason with five earned runs allowed in three starts (19.1 innings, 2.33 ERA). It has not been a fluke, either, as his ERA in his final 20 regular-season starts was 2.62 in 123.2 innings.

His value won’t rise dramatically because he will be 33 next July, but he has established himself as a capable full-time back-end starter at the very least, and a quality No. 3 at best. Without a doubt, he has earned himself a strong market that could range from the Dodgers to the Boston Red Sox.

“He’s looking pretty,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters. “He’s a free agent. The timing is important for him.”


Impact on Trade Market

The trade market has been affected much less by the postseason than the free-agent market, mainly because guys like Murphy and Estrada will be free agents. If they were under contract beyond this season, their trade values would have soared. Also, any team weakness exposed was already known. Still, the playoffs have highlighted certain needs for certain teams.

The Dodgers bullpen issues have been known for most of the regular season since its 3.91 ERA was in the bottom half of the National League. In this postseason, that jumped to 4.61 in 13.2 innings (seven earned runs) despite its 18 strikeouts. Setup man Chris Hatcher and closer Kenley Jansen were very good—not allowing a run and striking out seven in a combined seven innings. 

In fact, four other Dodger relievers were not scored on in the NLDS against the Mets, although none of them pitched more than 1.1 innings. All of the damage came against regular-season starter Alex Wood (four runs in two innings) and Pedro Baez (three runs in 0.1 innings over two appearances).

Again, this postseason did not expose what was unknown. And this is also not a complete teardown and rebuild for the Dodgers front office, which is heading into its second offseason. An arm here or there could suffice just fine, and if they aren’t wiling to pay for such arms, they could attempt to pry away quality arms from any number of teams, including the Kansas City Royals.

The Yankees played only one postseason game, losing the American League Wild Card, but the overall inconsistency and fragileness of their rotation all season has them in the market for starting pitching. If they aren’t willing to pay for it on the open market, they are likely to turn to trade options, which could include Shields, Tyson Ross or anybody the Oakland A’s employ.

Other playoff teams could be in on rotation parts as well. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs could be two of them, while the St. Louis Cardinals might be in the market for a bat.

Whatever way this postseason plays out, it has already affected the offseason transaction season. Exactly how much it has is a matter of waiting and seeing.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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NLCS Game 4: How Twitter Reacted to Chicago Cubs’ Loss to Mets

Wrigley Field was a haunted house for the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets again played the ghoul. 

Murphy hit a home run for the fifth straight postseason game, and he scored another run as the Mets jumped out to a 3-0 NLCS lead over the Cubs on Tuesday night. A man who would not have been recognized by some casual baseball fans a couple of weeks ago is now generating headlines literally every time that he takes the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t cool Murphy down. Now it’s the Cubs being terrorized by the new Mr. October of New York.

You may have heard about the “curse” that supposedly hovers over the Cubs. Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post wrote about it on October 19: 

And by now, you almost certainly know that on Oct. 6, 1945, with the Cubs leading the Tigers 2-1 after three games of the World Series, Bill Sianis bought two tickets for Game 4. The War was over, but travel restrictions were still in effect so after three games in Detroit the Series shifted to Chicago; the Cubs needed to only split those games to win their first championship since 1908.

There are various versions of what happened when Sianis showed up at Wrigley that day with his “guest” — Murphy the goat. The most popular one goes something like this: The ushers stopped Sianis, told him no animals were allowed in the park. Sianis appealed to P. K. Wrigley himself, who confirmed the decision: “Let Billy in,” the Cubs owner said. “But not the goat.”

Sianis, incensed, demanded an explanation. And Wrigley gave him one.

“Because the goat stinks,” he said.

No matter the version of the story, this part is not in dispute: Sianis told Wrigley, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.”

When the Tigers took three out of four to win the ’45 Series, a telegram arrived in the offices of P. K. Wrigley: “WHO STINKS NOW?”

That it is a man named Murphy who could have a role in the Cubs being swept right out of the NLCS has not been lost on social media. 


It is understandable that some fans of the Cubs and even members of the club are shocked following Game 3. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Murphy, who had all of 14 home runs during the regular season (h/t ESPN), was not supposed to become the most feared hitter in baseball. The renewal of the Cubs-Mets rivalry from decades ago presented, on paper, an ideal opportunity for the Cubs to end this “jinx” that has plagued Chicago since 1908.

What could have been a fairy-tale ending for long-suffering fans of the Cubs is quickly becoming a nightmare. The Cubs are not just on the brink of elimination via a sweep. To make what would now be an historic run to the World Series, the Cubs will have to defeat the following starting pitchers: Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom


Somewhat ironic in all of this is that the fanbase of the Mets is about as emotionally broken as are supporters of the Cubs. New York sports talk radio host Joe Benigno is but one tortured Mets fan. He theorized, during a segment that aired on WFAN on Tuesday afternoon, that it would be fitting for the Cubs to put an end to their World Series drought by coming back from being down 0-3 in the NLCS. That discussion sparked talk of when the Boston Red Sox completed their comeback against the New York Yankees during the 2004 ALCS. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows his history. So does Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo. 

Members of the Cubs have to remain positive. The team’s season is, after all, not over. “One game at a time” may be a sports cliche, but it is one that is true for any series. The pressure is now on the Mets to close the Cubs out before things get interesting.

Chicago fans may not share that optimism. Could anybody blame them? “Unfortunately, their history is losing” is a line used to describe the relationship fans have with the Cubs in a wrap-up video for Game 3 of the NLCS. That says a lot, and it is a gut-punch to those fans.

His past play suggests that Murphy will soon return to form. That he hasn’t already is astonishing. Once that happens, it should theoretically have negative impacts on others in the lineup of the Mets. That domino effect could be just what the Cubs need to turn the NLCS around. 

Then again, one would think that a franchise could fall into a World Series championship at some point between 1908-2015. 

The Mets have looked like a runaway train in the NLCS. Harvey being nailed by a rocket-shot line drive early in the series didn’t slow the Mets. Neither did a lost ball in the ivy that cost the Mets at least an additional run in Game 3. Outside of having blind hope, Chicago fans have little reason to believe that the Mets will completely fall apart between now and Game 7. 

Perhaps it’s time to rename it the “Murphy Curse.” 

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Daniel Murphy: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on 2B’s Future with Mets

Daniel Murphy had a very strong 2015 season for the New York Mets and has had an amazing postseason run. That might not be enough to keep him with the Mets after this season, however.

Continue for updates.

Murphy Unlikely to Be Re-Signed By Mets

Monday, Oct. 19

According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, “Two team sources said again Sunday that Murphy, despite his postseason heroics, is not in the Mets’ future plans.”

“He’s been great, really great, but it changes nothing,” one of those sources told Ackert.

Murphy, 30, is a free agent in the offseason and is likely in line for a pretty substantial deal after his epic October. He’s hitting .357 with five home runs, seven runs scored and eight RBI in seven games this postseason, has homered in four straight games and has helped lead the Mets to a 2-0 lead over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

According to Ackert, however, the Mets see Dilson Herrera as their second baseman of the future and feel confident that Wilmer Flores can play the position until Herrera is ready to seize the reins. While Murphy can also play first and third base, one rival executive doesn’t see the Mets paying a premium for him, per Ackert:

If they are keeping their payroll in the same neighborhood, they can’t afford to keep him. He’s making $8 million now, will probably get a bump on that and he’s going to want some years. They already have all that money invested in Juan Lagares (4 years, $22.5 million) and Michael Cuddyer (1 year, $10 million) who are both backups now. You can’t keep your payroll under control like that.

The Mets have a lot of young talent they’ll want to contractually control for years to come, so losing veterans like Murphy seems like an inevitability. While Murphy has proved to be an October star and could fuel the team to a World Series run, his days with the Mets appear to be numbered.


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5 Rapid Reactions to All the Early 2015 ALCS, NLCS Action

There is enough of a sample size to pass judgment.

The American League and National League Championship Series are both two games old, and both are somewhat surprisingly 2-0 in favor of the teams with home-field advantage. The Kansas City Royals and New York Mets are two wins away from heading to the 2015 World Series, but as the division series reminded us, you cannot count out the trailing teams. 

The Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs return home to try to climb back into their respective series, but through two games, the takeaways are not glowing for either club or some of their high-profile players. That makes their next three home games all the more critical, lest they want to head back on the road facing elimination.

Before we get there, though, here are five important conclusions based on the championship series to this point.

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Daniel Murphy Injury: Updates on Mets Star’s Hamstring and Return

The New York Mets have already had their share of bad news this spring, so an injury to All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy isn’t what the team needs right now. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t pay attention to team needs, as Murphy has been diagnosed with a pulled hamstring. 

Continue for updates. 

MRI Reveals Pulled Hamstring

Friday, March 20

Marc Carig of Newsday reported that Murphy will miss at least a week with a pulled hamstring.

Murphy Exits with Hamstring Tightness

Thursday, March 19

According to Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal, Murphy was injured while running the bases during the Mets’ game against St. Louis:

Murphy has been one of New York’s best hitters over the last three years, recording at least 166 hits and 37 doubles every season since 2012. He made his first All-Star team in 2014, providing stability at second base for a franchise that’s still looking for help on offense. 

As long as Murphy is ready to play on Opening Day, no one with the Mets will panic about him leaving a spring game. It’s still not good news for a team that is starting to build expectations thanks to a talented young pitching staff—even with the likely season-ending injury to Zack Wheeler and the return of Matt Harvey.   

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The Biggest Issues the San Francisco Giants Must Address at the Trade Deadline

The San Francisco Giants have fallen on tough times in the past week, losing six of their last seven games. Fortunately for the Giants, they had built a sizable lead in the NL West and are still ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers by six games. 

During this recent skid, the Giants have had bouts of poor pitching from their starters and the bullpen. They also have had games where the bats were silenced or were unable to get a key hit. In addition, poor defense has hurt the Giants’ efforts.

There is not one thing that can be pointed at that has caused the Giants’ recent problems. However, there are some overriding concerns that become magnified when the team is losing.

With the trade deadline on the horizon, general manager Brian Sabean will be looking for areas where he can help bolster the team.

The first priority is at second base. Brandon Hicks had some big games and clutch hits early in the year. Hicks has power, with eight home runs and 22 RBI on the year.

However, Hicks’ performance has declined dramatically of late. He has not homered since May 23 and has only two RBI in his last 20 games.

Even more troubling is that Hicks has now struck out 70 times in 187 at-bats, with several of those in situations where even a ground ball would have driven in a run.

Hicks’ average is down to .176, with an OBP of .289 and OPS of .637. Defensively, he has been better than expected, but the Giants can no longer live with his complete lack of production.

Manager Bruce Bochy has also given Ehire Adrianza some opportunities, but he is proving that he is not ready to be in the majors. 

In 63 at-bats, Adrianza is hitting only .190 with no home runs and four RBI. He has a soft .190 batting average to go along with an OBP of .235 and OPS of .458. Watching him at the plate, he is frequently overmatched.

Adrianza has also made too many mistakes defensively for a player that is supposed to be an outstanding defensive player. 

The only reason Adrianza is on the team is because he is out of minor league options. The Giants are afraid another team will claim him if they expose him to waivers.

Joaquin Arias is another potential option, but he is often used at other positions or as a defensive replacement for Pablo Sandoval in the late innings. Arias is also not producing at this point.  

In 79 at-bats, Arias is hitting only .177, with an OBP of .214 and OPS of .392. Arias has no home runs and seven RBI. However, at least Arias looks like he has a chance to hit the ball with authority, which can rarely be said about Adrianza.

Also, do not expect anything out of Marco Scutaro this season. If he ultimately does make it back, it will be a bonus, but at this point, he cannot be counted on.

With the NL West race beginning to tighten up, it will be up to Sabean to get a top-flight second baseman. 

Daniel Murphy of the Mets is the perfect solution. Murphy is a very good offensive player and a solid, though unspectacular, defender. With the Mets currently eight games under .500, their playoff hopes are virtually nil.

In 281 at-bats, Murphy has five home runs, 26 RBI, 11 stolen bases and has scored 45 runs. His batting average is .299, with an OBP of .359 and OPS of .778.

Murphy is a solid, professional hitter and would be a huge upgrade for the Giants at second base. He is making $5.7 million this year, so if the Giants acquired him toward the end of July, they would be on the hook for roughly $2.5 million. 

Murphy is arbitration eligible in 2015, so the Giants would have him under their control for another season. He does not become eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

Sabean may be able to pry Murphy away from the Mets by offering Adrianza plus a decent pitching prospect like Clayton Blackburn or Chris Stratton. This is a deal the Giants should make, even if it costs them a little bit more, as it will fill the huge void they have at second base.  

The other potential acquisition at the trade deadline would be for a starting pitcher. However, this pitcher would need to be measurably better than either Tim Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong.

One such pitcher who is available is Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs. He is making only $5.345 million this year, and like Murphy, he will be in his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2015.

Money will not be an issue for the Giants for the remainder of 2014, although it could be an issue for the Giants to sign him for the 2015 season and beyond.

However, Samardzija is not eligible to become a free agent until after next season, so this is not a rent-a-player scenario. 

Samardzija has thrown 91 innings this season, allowing 81 hits and 26 walks while striking out 82. His ERA is 2.77, and he has a WHIP of 1.176. Both of these numbers are very good. 

The Cubs will demand a king’s ransom for Samardzija. Any deal would need to include the Giants’ top pitching prospect Kyle Crick. In addition, the Cubs will likely want a couple more decent prospects in the deal.

If the Giants had to part with Crick and two other top prospects, such as catcher Andrew Susac and pitcher Martin Agosta, this is a deal they should do. Whenever you have a real chance to win now, it’s something you must capitalize on. The Giants have that chance in 2014.

If Samardzija becomes a Giant, the resulting move would be Ryan Vogelsong or Tim Lincecum to the bullpen. If Lincecum is willing to make the move, that will benefit the team, but if not, the Giants should be perfectly fine moving Vogelsong.

Look for things to start heating up in July around the All-Star break as Sabean starts maneuvering to strengthen his team. A couple of stellar moves like acquiring Murphy and Samardzija could be the Giants’ next ticket to the World Series.  

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Mets’ Daniel Murphy Gets Bryce Harper with MLB Version of Between-the-Legs Pass

Daniel Murphy might have a fairly decent AND1 mixtape with the sick moves he flashed getting Bryce Harper out at first.

Next Impulse Sports’ Pete Blackburn spotted the play of the year. OK, to be fair, it was the play of spring training, but we think you will agree it’s still something quite wonderful.

In the sixth inning of an eventual 3-1 win by the Mets over the Nationals, Washington’s Harper tried to get some slap-bunting work in with one out and nobody on.

The ball finds second baseman Murphy sprinting in to cover. This being spring, Murphy decided to err on the side of flash over substance, so he tossed the baseball through his legs to get Harper at first.

Anyone in the stands with a towel is advised to wave that over their head and scream, “Ohhh!”

The announcers were impressed when they noticed that what looked like a short-arm toss from the 28-year-old was actually a mustard-off-the-hot-dog pass to Lucas Duda: “Only the Murph, watch this. That’s that Curly Neal for the Globetrotters.”

The monotony of playing split-squad games and exhibitions that don’t matter might be wearing on guys, so it’s nice that some have found ways to infuse creativity into the game.

However, we have to think manager Terry Collins greeted Murphy in the dugout with his best Lou Brown impression, telling him, “Nice throw, but don’t ever [expletive] do it again.”

We have reached the circus-trick portion of the preseason, which means the real games couldn’t get here soon enough.

We don’t think Murphy will ever bring this bad boy out of his bag of tricks again, but it’s nice to know it’s there if he needs it.


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Why Daniel Murphy Must Stay with the New York Mets in 2014

The New York Mets haven’t made many splashes this offseason. Right now, the team is constantly trying to shop either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. But there is growing talk that second baseman Daniel Murphy could also be traded soon, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.

Sandy Alderson, don’t do it!

Murphy is one of the hardest working players on the Mets. He constantly makes sacrifices for the team. He is also one of the best hitters in any recent Mets lineup. So, don’t do it!

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted out on December 8 that the Mets were willing to trade Murphy. Since then, no one in the Mets organization has stepped up and squashed the story.

Last season, Murphy was the leader in every offensive category besides the number of home runs hit. But even though he didn’t lead the team in home runs, he still contributed 13 homers. In the previous two years, he hit just six home runs each season.

Murphy led the dismal Mets in 2013 with a .286 batting average as well as a .319 OBP and 78 RBI.

He led the team by example. He always hustled and went for the extra mile. For instance, at 0:33 in the above video, Murphy busts out of the box and runs as hard as he can around the bases. That leads to a triple rather than a double, and his hit even gives the Mets a 4-3 lead over Miami late in the game.

What’s really impressive about Murphy is that he’s a total workhorse. In fact, he has battled injuries throughout his entire career, but it seems like he always comes back stronger.

He refuses to makes his injuries an excuse.

Instead, he uses the experience to push forward.

After tearing his MCL in August of 2011, he was forced to end his season early. Murphy came back and played 156 games in 2012. In 2013, no Mets player played more games than he did. Murphy played 161 out of the team’s 162 games.

Over the past three seasons, Murphy has increased his extra-base hits from 36 in 2011 to 55 in 2013. He also improved from 49 RBI in 2011 to 65 RBI in 2012 and 78 RBI in 2013.

Additionally, Murphy has been stealing a lot more bases. He stole five bases in 2011, 10 bases in 2012 and 23 bases in 2013.

And he hasn’t just improved offensively. To keep his career alive, he had to make some defensive changes as well.

The natural third baseman had to learn how to play second base in time for 2012. After struggling in the outfield when he first got called up to the majors, reporters and fans alike doubted his ability to then play second base. But he worked day in and day out, trying to perfect his fielding skills as best as he can.

By 2013, there was no doubt in Murphy being the Mets’ second baseman. Entering 2014, there certainly does not seem to be a better second baseman candidate for the Mets other than Murphy.

Who can replace him? At this point, I don’t think anyone can. The Mets are supposedly listening to offers from multiple teams, per Ackert. But they have not been satisfied with the value on any of the offers.

If the Mets can find someone who has 188 hits in a season and at least 78 RBI, then go ahead and try to make a deal. But they aren’t going to find that person.

Trading Murphy should not be on the Mets’ minds at all. They have bigger fish to fry.

What’s going to happen at shortstop? Who will be the first baseman in 2014, Davis or Duda? Can the team find a decent veteran relief pitcher before the beginning of the season?

The Mets need Murphy. He provides a level of stability on a team that is still within the process of rebuilding. The 28-year-old is a reliable hitter and, for the most part, a reliable fielder.

What other position player can you say the same for (besides David Wright)?

Besides, Murphy told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that he want to remain a Met:

I want to be in New York. We’ve struggled the last couple of years, and I also feel like, hopefully, my best baseball is ahead of me. So when you feel like you’ve been a little part of the problem, you want to be a part of the solution.

Well, if he wants to help turn around this team, the Mets should let him be a part of it.

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New York Mets’ 5 Most Tradeable Assets for the 2013-14 Offseason

With the 2013 World Series underway, it will soon be time to look towards the offseason. The winter shopping season will soon be under way. There will be free agents signing with new teams; there will be trades made as clubs look to better themselves for the upcoming season.

The New York Mets will reportedly have some money to spend in free agency this winter, with some hefty contracts coming off the books. But general manager Sandy Alderson has gone on record by saying he will spend wisely and not just for the sake of signing a big-name, big-money player.

However, the Mets may be bigger players in the trade market this offseason. They have some clear needs (outfielder, catcher, shortstop and pitching are likely to be the priorities), and they have some moveable players that could be used to fill the voids on the team’s roster. It’s rarely easy to suggest a player be traded. But, nevertheless, here are the Mets’ top five tradeable assets as we head into the winter shopping season.

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New York Mets: Why Daniel Murphy’s Starting Job at Second Base Is in Jeopardy

Imagine you’re at work, and your boss walks up to you and says, “You look like you could use a day off. In fact, take two days off. Relax. Watch a couple of ballgames.”

Sounds great to most of us. Sounds like the voice of doom to a Major League baseball player, especially one who’s the starter at his position.

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has heard that voice, and it likely spells doom for his starting role.

Perhaps the most telling indication that Murphy’s job is on the line came in the Mets’ sweep of the Baltimore Orioles a couple of weeks back. The O’s are having their best season in dog years, and the Mets wanted their front line players in the lineup.

It speaks volumes that manager Terry Collins sat Murphy for two of those three games.

It wasn’t a matter of pitching matchups. Murphy and Jordany Valdespin, who spelled Murphy at second, both bat lefty. It was a matter of hitting: Valdespin has been and Murphy hasn’t.

His batting woes are a bit of a mystery. Every player has slumps, but Murphy has been in free fall. Murphy’s bat has sparked the Mets many times in the past, and in fact, he was a dynamo at the start of this season.

Six weeks ago, he was hitting in the neighborhood of .335. So far in June, he’s batting .187, and his overall average has dipped to .269.

By contrast, Valdespin batted .300 over 10 games this month, before he was sent to Triple-A Buffalo.

Don’t let that demotion fool you. Valdespin wasn’t sent down because of poor performance. It’s true that he had a slow start, but his production has been rising steadily.

Valdespin is in Buffalo because the Mets needed to make room for shortstop Ruben Tejada, who’s back in the lineup after missing seven weeks with a strained right quadriceps.

With Ronny Cedeño also back from injury, the Mets have an abundance of middle infielders (Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla are also on the roster).

Manager Terry Collins wants Valdespin to get regular at-bats, and that’s more likely to happen in Buffalo than Queens.

The crowd up the middle doesn’t bode well for Murphy. Collins has too many alternatives available to cut Murphy any slack for much longer.

There are several other reasons to bench Murphy for a while.

He’s played a full schedule of games, he’s got as many if not more plate appearances than anyone on the team, but he hasn’t gone yard yet this season. That’s a stark contrast to previous seasons, when Murphy was always good for a dozen or so homers.

Murphy’s fielding has gone south right along with his batting average. He’s got nine errors so far this season. The most he’s ever had in an entire season is 10.

Add all that together and it would seem that Murphy is bench-bound, if not bound for another team.The Mets were in desperate need of bullpen help even before closer Frank Francisco went on the DL this week.

Murphy could be an attractive player for a team looking to plug an infield hole. While the emergence of Valdespin has made him seem like a grizzled old veteran by comparison, he’s only 27. 

Even with his protracted slump, he’s still a proven hitter. His mental lapses in the field may be more of a reaction to his troubles at the plate than a deterioration of his fielding skills.

Perhaps most important, the middle infield is the only place where the Mets are fat. If GM Sandy Alderson traded any of the other starting position players, it would just create another hole to fill in the lineup.

With Murphy’s track record, it’s reasonable to assume there are some hitting coaches out there who would love to help Murph climb out of his bottomless batting pit.

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