This question has been asked plenty, and even though the Dodgers almost acquired him over the winter, is Murphy being shopped to other teams? Nobody can deny the offensive ability that Daniel Murphy brings to the table, but it’s his glove that makes baseball people worry. Now that the Mets are seemingly out of contention for the playoffs, could Sandy Alderson make a more lateral move to bolster the bullpen for 2012 and beyond?
The Mets have identified themselves as Switzerland nearing the trade deadline, neither being sellers or buyers, but their greatest team need for the immediate future is the bullpen. It was the front office’s plan to acquire a reliever or two in order to help fortify a postseason run, but this team has quickly gone from playoff contender to four games out of the basement in the NL East.
MLB Trade Rumors mentioned this week that Sandy Alderson would listen to what teams have to say concerning Tim Byrdak and Scott Hairston, but would want pieces in return that could help them in 2013. It seems unlikely teams would give up that kind of talent for a lefty reliever or bench player, so if Alderson really wants to get some bullpen help, now would be the best time to move Daniel Murphy.
The Mets second baseman has enjoyed his best month of the season, and has found his extra base hit stroke as he’s hitting .415/.433/.615 through 18 games in July. His stock is high, and since he’s not arbitration eligble until 2013, he could be attractive to all types of teams, specifically low spending ones. There is a market for Murphy this season because the Padres approached the Mets about acquiring the second baseman for Luke Gregerson (2-0, 3.12 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) earlier, a deal that Alderson dismissed.
Alderson could have denied that trade because even as recent as two weeks ago, the Mets could have been in the market for a shutdown reliever, like Huston Street. However, Gregerson has shown that he can do just that, so it puzzles me as to why they wouldn’t consider this deal more. It’s doubtful the front office thinks Murphy is the future at second base, and the recent emergence of Jordany Valdespin (.292/.320/.583) has made him expendable for the right deal.
Another team that has come up in conversations is the Oakland A’s. At 53-44, they have surprised the baseball world and are only 5 games back in the AL West, and currently hold the first of two AL Wild Card spots. Billy Beane looks to be buying, as he was rumored to be talking to the Marlins about Hanley Ramirez before he was dealt to the Dodgers. The A’s have a surplus of relief pitching and are in desperate need of offense if they plan on making a run. Who could the Mets get if they traded Murph to Oakland? Grant Balfour (2-2, 2.92 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) was an option earlier in the year, but Sean Doolittle (1-0, 1.86 ERA, 0.93 WHIP), Ryan Cook (4-2, 1.70, 0.90), and Jerry Blevins (3-0, 2.45, 1.02) could all be a good fit.
The Cleveland Indians are currently 4 games out of the AL Central and 4.5 games back of the last AL Wild Card spot, and Murphy could spell Jack Hannahan at third base and Jason Kipnis at second base, while also grabbing some time as a designated hitter. Joe Smith (remember him?), has been having a solid year (6-3, 3.19, 1.13) and his unique delivery could be one of the advantages of coming from the American League to National League.
The Tampa Bay Rays are another team that come to mind; they’re falling out of contention in the AL East and are on the cusp of being sellers by shopping B.J. Upton. Normally a good defensive team, this could be a good influence on Murphy at second base, as it’s doubtful Jeff Keppinger will be with the Rays long-term. A deal with Tampa could yield the Mets a reliever like J.P. Howell (1-0, 3.34 ERA, 1.14) or Jake McGee (3-2, 2.76, 1.01).
Trading Murphy to an American League team would make sense because he can be used as a designated hitter more often, playing to his biggest strength. Valdespin has been gaining more playing time in the outfield with his hot bat, so why not give him a chance at second base? If he can’t hold his own, we know that Justin Turner and Ronny Cedeno could handle the position for the remainder of the year. With this current skid just about taking 2012 out of the picture, Sandy should start rebuilding his bullpen for next year right now.