Daniel Murphy has been a centerpiece of a World Series runner-up, a trusted veteran on an underachieving contender and a valuable trade chip at the deadline. Now at 33-years-old, he’s moving onto the next phase in his career, agreeing to a two-year, $24 million deal with the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.
Daniel Murphy is in agreement with the Colorado Rockies on a two-year, $24 million deal, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 20, 2018
Murphy is expected to play mostly first base and should help a Rockies lineup that got MVP-type seasons from Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story and had the second-highest scoring lineup in the National League. Primarily a second baseman, Murphy has played 214 games at first during his 10-year career. He’s three years removed from leading the league in slugging (.595) and OPS (.985) and no longer the consistent All-Star and MVP candidate he was when he last entered free agency in 2015.
At that time, Murphy had just been named National League Championship Series MVP with the New York Mets, and despite some costly errors in a World Series loss to Kansas City, cashed in by joining NL East rival Washington Nationals for three years and $37.5 million. The deal wound up as the second-largest contract handed out to an infielder in 2015 behind the Baltimore Orioles’ seven-year, $161 million albatross awarded to Chris Davis.
Yet the signing never equated to postseason success for the Nationals. Despite slotting Murphy into a lineup with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, Washington never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. When the 2018 season unraveled beyond repair, the Nats made quick work of offloading Murphy, sending him to the Chicago Cubs — who were promptly eliminated in the wild-card game by the Colorado Rockies.
Since winning NLCS MVP in 2015, Murphy is 11-for-39 in the playoffs with eight runs batted in. Perhaps more troublesome are his regular season numbers, which have trended downward for the past few years. Murphy’s strikeout rate has jumped from 7.1 percent in his final year with the Mets to 12.5 percent in his last two years with the Nationals and Cubs. His batting average also dropped from .347 in 2016, to .322 in 2017 before plateauing at .299 in 2018. Couple that with microfracture knee surgery last offseason and the fact that Murphy is drawing his fewest walks since 2014 (5.7 percent walk rate).
The Rockies will also have to answer for negative comments the veteran has made about the LGBT community. There was considerable backlash from Cubs fans — and fans across baseball — when Murphy was traded to Chicago last August.
With fellow second basemen Brian Dozier, Asdrubal Cabrera and Ian Kinsler also on the market this offseason, Murphy had plenty of competition as he searched for a new deal. If Murphy can reverse his recent performance trends, it’ll be seen as a coup for his new club, but the 2015 postseason is long gone. It’s up to Murphy to prove he can still harness the tools that nearly made him a World Series champion.
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