2 QUESTIONS: Will Daniel Murphy Price Himself Out of a Job? Is It Time to Show Ike Davis the Money?

Mike:

Half of our current infield, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, are now arbitration eligible. Davis already settled for $3.1 million for 2013.

It is impossible in baseball today to totally separate the financial aspects from the raw talent aspects of assembling a roster. What do you think about these two guys?

Jimmy:

Short-term, this year, there’s no problem. But we’re going to need to make decisions on both of them. And if the answer is “Yes,” then the proactive approach — locking him up, Niese-style — is the way to go. I think Ike Davis is close to earning that big contract. I’m less sanguine about Mr. Murphy’s earning potential with the Mets.

We’ve seen it so many times in baseball over the years. And, frankly, we see it in the working world, too. Guys do a job reasonably well, get a raise, then another raise, then another, to the point when you finally look at him and say, “Hell, we can get somebody to do that job for half the pay.”

And the axe falls.

I wonder if that’s where things are inevitably going for Daniel Murphy.

Mike:

Okay, first of all, I am going to have to keep you away from my boss. I need the day job, Jimmy. So please can we be a little careful pointing things out?

Now to Murphy, no, I do not agree. I still think his greatest value is as a super utility guy for a good team, but I also do not expect him to ever price himself out of that role. It’s not like I envision any huge contracts for Murphy. I would trade him because someone else who can better utilize him might trade you something that could have a higher potential ceiling. Our roster is years away from being able to maximize Murphy, and if we are waiting years for true value why not shoot for big value. In other words, trade Murphy for prospects.

In other words, he is in the wrong job, but he wouldn’t be overpaid if he was in the correct job.

For today I either work out a one-year deal or go to arbitration.

Jimmy:

Murphy should make close to $3 million this year. And that’s fine. And next year, he’ll get another raise. Meanwhile, he’s on a team that counts its pennies. Can Flores play 2B? We’ll find that out this year, I guess. Can he really be much slower than Murphy? They say Wilmer’s hands and arm are good. As far as the cost of a super-sub utility guy, again, $4 million seems high for this club. I think Scott Hairston might agree.

Mike:

I think we are agreeing. I said a good club, we are not a good club. I would therefore trade him to a better team for something, before he has zero value in a trade. His trade value decreases with every raise he gets. I’m on board, I don’t know what he is still doing here if it is about 2014 and beyond.

But to the question above that leads the topic, I don’t see anything in his financial future that will lead to Murphy taking pay cuts any time soon. Eric Chavez just signed for $3 million dollars on the open market. Considering Murphy has now shown he can play a bad second base, he projects very well in that solid backup player market. The guy a good team knows they will need to succeed, and so they pay the price. For people who are Murphy fans, I think he will have a nice long career. As a sub.

So yes, today, that is not the Mets. They are not a good team, and they are unwilling to pay the price to be one. As an aside, that needs to change — and soon.

Jimmy:

Moving on, I know the prevailing sentiment is against me, but this is the year we make the big decision about Ike Davis, and I’m still not totally sold. If we’re believers, it’s time to show him the money. Davis has tremendous star potential. The guy could really become a force. At the same time, his best statistical comparisons so far, according to Baseball Reference, include guys like Chris Duncan, Freddie Freeman, Mark Trumbo, Dan Johnson, Hee-Seop Choi, and Gaby Sanchez. I really don’t know where Ike is going to end up. But I don’t see him being overpaid any time soon. Adam LaRoche, who reminds me of Ike, is earning $15 million this year.

Mike:

Ike Davis was tied for fifth in the NL in home runs in a year that sure feels like his floor offensively. Frankly, it takes two to tango, and if I’m Ike or his agent I tell Alderson, “Talk to me next year.”  If I was Alderson I would be trying real hard to sign him for five years, but it probably wouldn’t matter. Ike seems like a smart enough guy to know he should wait before committing himself to anything. He might also want to get a look at “the Plan,” as it continues to unfold. I keep hoping for a plot twist but so far it has been like Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Ike is a Super Two and we already have him to ourselves for three more years unless we ever non-tendered him. I just don’t see anything happening here right now.

Jimmy:

Just to get back to basics, Ike Davis and David Murphy aren’t league-minimum guys anymore. They earned nice raises this off-season, and that trend will almost certainly continue. I see this as a key moment of decision for the organization. Because once salaries escalate, the standards of measurement change, and question of “value” takes on more significance.

On Murphy, I believe the club is going to look up one day — maybe a year from now — and realize they have cheaper options. So they likely trade him. But I don’t agree that it’s been a mistake to hold him for 2013 — even with the raise, his trade value might increase quite a bit with a strong showing. And, hey, they’ve got to put somebody on the field. It didn’t sound like Alderson liked what he could get for Murphy in last season’s market. Waiting makes sense to me.

Mets announce Niese contract extension. Just feel the love in that room.

On Davis, the club needs to decide if he’s the guy for the next five years. It’s debatable. This is the same decision they made with Jonathan Niese, the pro-active long-term, guaranteed contract. Sign Ike right now for five years and it will cost X (wild guess: $35 million?). Wait a year on Ike, and if he hits 35 HRs and 95 RBIs, he’ll be one year closer to free agency — and will cost X + $ to lock him up for five years. And X + $ could be almost double the cost of making a contract extension in the Spring of 2013. Waiting could cost you an extra $20-25 million. The timing of the Niese deal was huge, and riskier.

This is the risk/reward gamble they have to make on Ike. If they wait for certainty, the added assurance of another strong season, that knowledge won’t come cheaply. You are saying that you don’t think Ike accept that deal at this time. I don’t know that answer — but I do know that a lot of good, young, talented players have signed in similar positions.

Mike:

It is counter intuitive to me that Murphy’s trade value will rise as his salary rises. I don’t see a significant production change coming, I think he is what he is. We’ll see.

Jimmy:

With minor improvements overall, I think Murphy can legitimize himself as a quality ML second-baseman, maybe even Top Ten, according to the MLB Network. Last July, there was more risk, more uncertainty. That’s the difference another good year could bring. Again, you see him as a sub and value him accordingly. But if Murphy establishes himself as a good hitting, everyday second baseman — that’s more valuable, I think.

Mike:

On Ike, I have nothing to add from my comments above. I don’t see these two dancing yet.

 

 

 

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4 comments

  1. Don P says:

    I don’t love Murphy and would trade him for prospects, but second basemen who can hit are uncommon. If we take Utley, Brandon Phillips and Neil Walker off the table, what second baseman is significantly better than Murphy. I’ll agree that he’s a lousy fielder, but again what NL’er do you trade him for that is a better combo of hitting and fielding. The Cardinals, an organization that gets it, is trotting out a fielder who is an automatic out (Descalso) and a lousy fielder who doesn’t hit (Schumaker) as well as Murphy.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Part of my thinking is we have a right handed, younger, cheaper replacement in Flores. Who has nowhere else to play. And can’t field either!

  2. [...] up in January  about Murphy, now that he’s arbitration eligible and earning raises, that he could easily price himself out of a job with the Mets. We are too [...]

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