What does the future hold for Daniel Murphy?

Daniel Murphy hit a three-run home run Tuesday against the Reds, extending his hitting streak to six games.

mail icon avatarAaron P, a reader of MetsBlog:

Why does MetsBlog keep indicating that Murphy will be traded this winter. He stands with Mike Trout, Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen and Ian Desmond as the only players in the league with at least 35 doubles, 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He’s third in the NL in hits. Why would any one in their right mind trade him? I don’t get it.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

It’s a great question. However, you sort of already answered it: He could be traded because of the numbers you mention. If the Mets could acquire a second baseman who can give a similar level of production — less at the plate, but more in the field — and use Murphy as part of trade that could help bring back more power, I think Alderson will consider it. It’s not that anyone is eager to trade him for the sake of trading him, it’s that he may help the team more in trade than on the field. So, the GM has to listen…

That said, it’s worth noting he’ll get a bump in pay this winter, probably jumping to around $4.5 million. He’s eligible for arbitration again in 2015, after which he’ll be a free agent. The Mets get good value from him right now, because he gives them more in production than he costs as a percentage of payroll. That changes, though, with a higher salary. Also, while his total base numbers are nice, his peripheral stats tell a slightly different story…

Maggie Wiggin, Contributor

Murphy is often praised for his consistency. However, his streaky hitting shows this is not the case. His biggest value to the team is his actually durability. He is most likely going to play close to 160 games this season. He played in 156 games in 2012.

“It’s luck,” Murphy told reporters, according to the Bergen Record, in regards to keeping himself on field.

This durability has allowed Murphy to rank highly in a number of categories. However, he’s also made the second-most outs of any player in the National League.

Daniel Murphy 1 polaroid

Murphy’s other statistics tell a complicated story, as well. His .733 OPS is the lowest of his career and ranks fourth among the nine qualifying second basemen in the NL. His offense is above league average by most measures, but not by a significant margin. His walk rate, in particular, is very low, though this is somewhat offset by his low strikeout rate. His fielding, while markedly improved from last season, is still a net negative.

Taking all of this into account, it’s difficult to get a read on Murphy’s true value to the Mets. The only potential internal alternative to him would be Wilmer Flores, who is still largely unproven and is not considered by most to be a viable second baseman defensively. Eric Young Jr. has played second, but his offense is simply not everyday-caliber.

In the end, I’m inclined towards giving Murphy the arbitration raise and keeping him around next year, unless a good trade opportunity comes along. He’s not likely to be an All-Star, but he fills a position of need and will benefit from a stronger lineup around him. He is a known quantity, who sets a good example for a team full of rookies with his strong work ethic, and those players don’t grow on trees.