Daniel Murphy Decision Time Around the Corner for New York Mets

Michael MandelkernContributor IIIMay 28, 2014

Daniel Murphy
Daniel MurphyJim McIsaac/Getty Images

Daniel Murphy is one of a few reliable hitters in the New York Mets lineup. His offense is crucial, yet he is only signed through 2014. The front office should either pull the trade trigger quickly or sign him to a multiyear deal.

Murphy delivers in the clutch. While the team is collectively batting just .241 with runners in scoring position, he is hitting .295 under those circumstances and an even more impressive .333 with runners in scoring position and two outs according to Baseball Reference

He has also been a spark at the top of innings. In 33 at-bats, Murphy is hitting .364 to lead off innings. With a runner on and no outs the Mets have a good chance to score. Even though they squander these opportunities a lot of the time, the offense would be even more anemic without him.

The Mets rank eighth in the National League in on-base percentage, 12th in batting average and dead last in slugging percentage. Murphy does not have much pop, but he is a doubles machine with 78 two-baggers over the past two seasons and 14 so far in 2014.

Currently signed to a one-year, $5.7 million deal with another year of arbitration in 2015, Murphy (29) is posting a .313/.361/.433 slash line. If he stays this hot, his value is only going to rise. However, the crippled Mets payroll will already be obligated to pay Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Curtis Granderson and David Wright in 2015.

He is a proven line-drive hitter who can spray the ball to all parts of the field and adapts to the spacious Citi Field. When Murphy is locked in he posts multiple-hit games with ease. There have only been four games in May in which he has gone hitless, and there were just four in April.

Recently, the second baseman has stayed healthy. He played 156 and 161 games, respectively, in 2012 and 2013 and has played nearly every game this season. 

Murphy is prone to extended hot and cold streaks, but so far in 2014 he has been more scorching than frigid due to his improved plate selection. His slumps have been brief this season.

The main knock on Murphy is his defense. While he has made strides at second base since taking over the position in 2012, Murphy remains a liability. He has negative rankings in several defensive categories, meaning that he costs the Mets more runs than he saves.

Murphy is not a reliable glove and is prone to mental blunders. He has six errors this season, including a game-losing gaffe late in the first game of the May 25 doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks. With two outs and runners on the corners, Murphy dropped a throw from Wright that allowed Arizona's go-ahead run to score for the Diamondbacks to win the game.

When he is playing brutal defense and not hitting, Murphy is a detriment to the team. He is often overzealous on the base paths trying to do too much. However, Murphy is an efficient base stealer. His hustle and grit sometimes hurt the team, though.

Despite sporadic stellar plays, he does not contribute much when he is not swinging the bat well, unlike a defensive-minded second baseman.

Wright has an inferior slash line to Murphy and an equal amount of home runs, but the two-time Gold Glove winner makes up for any periods of meager offense with his sturdy defense.

Wilmer Flores could replace Murphy at second base. Amazin’ Avenue ranked him No. 5 on a Top 25 list of Mets prospects going into this season. Flores is young, under team control and won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2017. Whether he can fill those shoes at second base remains to be seen.

The return on Murphy must be plentiful for the Mets to deal him. Otherwise, signing him to a multiyear deal makes the most sense given his consistent production. What the Mets cannot ultimately do is let him walk for nothing.