Rumor: Washington Nationals Interested In Daniel Murphy

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With the Nats looking for a second baseman, could they sign the former second baseman in New York who was a playoff hero this October?

Over the last few days, it has been reported that the Washington Nationals are looking for another second baseman so they can start Danny Espinosa at shortstop and have Trea Turner begin the 2016 season in the minor leagues. While they have talked to the Cincinnati Reds about a Brandon Phillips trade, they have also reportedly looked at free agency and arguably, the best second baseman on the market.

According to William Ladson of MLB.com, the Nationals have shown interest in former Mets’ second baseman, Daniel Murphy. The Mets moved on from Murphy after he rejected their qualifying offer and traded for Pittsburgh Pirates’ second baseman Neil Walker. Murphy had a slash line of .281/.322/.449 in 2015 with 14 home runs and 73 RBI’s in 130 games. But, what made Murphy one of the better second base options in free agency was his great postseason.

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This October, Murphy hit .328 with seven home runs and 11 RBI’s and he hit a home run in six consecutive games. However, you can look back at that postseason and remember the error that he made in Game 4 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals in the top of the eighth inning.

Murphy, who will be 31 when the season begins, has always been known for his bat. He has had a batting average of .280 or higher and an on-base percentage of .310 or higher in each of the last five seasons. If you look at his numbers this year among National League second baseman. He was third in home runs, led the league in RBI’s and slugging percentage, and was second in .OPS (behind Dee Gordon).

While offense is Murphy’s strength, the one thing that holds his game back is his defense. His error total went down from 15 in 2014 to six in 2015, the 2014 All-Star had -6 defensive runs saved (according to Fangraphs). Believe it or not, that is actually an improvement when you consider he was -10 or fewer in that category from 2012-2014.

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If you look at his WAR numbers, his total of 1.4 this season was the second lowest in his career (1.3 in 2008). This season, the 1.4 WAR was tenth among NL second baseman. Danny Espinosa, who had 132 fewer at-bats, had a 1.8 WAR. Murphy is attached to the qualifying offer, which means the Nationals would have to forfeit the 17th pick in this June’s draft. However, they will get compensatory picks in the first round for Jordan Zimmermann and when Ian Desmond eventually signs.

Living in New York, I have had the chance to watch Murphy since his Major League career in 2008. To me, Murphy fits more for an American League team because he is not going to hurt your team with his mediocre defense. I would rather have Phillips for two years and give up a couple prospects instead of giving Murphy a four-year deal, but I would think the Nats will keep an eye on the situation to see if Murphy’s market continues to stay quiet.

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