It appears as if the Kansas City Royals are not going to be able to find a power bat for the outfield, so they need to concentrate on upgrading second base. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the New York Mets may still be willing to trade second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Murphy is a solid offensively minded second baseman who would significantly improve the Kansas City batting line up. His career slash line is solid, if not spectacular at .290/.333/.424/.757 in 2,439 plate appearances. He doesn’t walk much, and won’t know out a ton of home runs, but he has very good doubles power, as he has averaged 39 2-bag hits in the last two seasons.
More importantly, he would fit into Kansas City’s salary structure. 2014 is his first arbitration eligible season, and he probably will make approximately $3.5 to $4 million. He is under team control through 2016. Compare those dollars to Howie Kendrick, who has been rumored to be a Kansas City target. Kendrick is slated to make $9.35 million this season and $9.5 million in 2015. At 30 years of age, Kendrick is two years older than Murphy, on top of being significantly more expensive.
Kendrick and Murphy are very similar in skill sets as well. Kendrick’s career slash looks like this – .292/.329/.429/.759 – nearly identical to Murphy’s. The Mets second baseman would seem to be a much better fit for the money than Kendrick.
Murphy, who bats left-handed, doesn’t have a tremendously lopsided lefty/righty split either. He hits .295 against righties, and .274 when facing southpaws. Now, his On Base Percentage is quite a bit higher against right-handers (.344) than against lefties (.301), but not so much as to be a reason not to pursue him. His Slugging Percentage is much higher when facing a right hander (.441) than a lefty (.375). None of these numbers are all that worrisome, and these are trends that occur with many hitters.
Murphy’s numbers are not skewed toward his home field either. His number are very similar whether at home or on the road, showing a comforting consistency no matter where he is playing.
He is also used to batting second in the line up, spending a bulk of his career in that slot. He has played 253 games while batting second, covering 1106 plate appearances. He is obviously comfortable in that spot because his slash line is better batting second than his overall career line – .300/.346/.433/.779. This would certainly fit into what the Royals are trying to do offensively.
With newly acquire Norichika Aoki batting lead off, and Murphy hitting second, the Royals line up automatically deepens, with Alex Gordon moving down to a key run producing slot in the middle of the lineup.
Defensively, he is probably below average. According to Fangraphs, his Ultimate Zone Rating at second is -13.3, although he was slightly better in 2013 than 2012. For a comparison, Chris Getz had a career UZR of 5.3 at second, significantly better than Murphy. His glove certainly pulls down his WAR, which was 1.8 in 2013 and sits at 9.0 for his career in 630 games. Getz’ WAR 1.8 for his career, in 449 games.
If there is one area in which Howie Kendrick is much better than Murphy, it is with the glove. His UZR is a positive 29.1 for his career at second base. Still, Murphy’s affordability should make him more attractive, plus an extra year of control, makes him the better option for the Royals.
So, what would it cost to acquire Daniel Murphy from the New York Mets. The Royals could probably get Murphy for a bullpen arm, a back up outfielder, and a mid tier prospect, all of which Kansas City has.
Depending on how good of a prospect that would have to be included, the deal seems like a working one for the Royals. They would gain a solid hitter, who fits nicely into their line up, for a very affordable salary. They will lose a bit defensively, but looking at the team as a whole, the gain they would make at the plate should outweigh the negative in the field.
The fact that the Royals would control Murphy for three years is just gravy. Murphy is a very good fit, at a nice price, for the Royals. Hopefully, Dayton Moore can make an offer to the Mets that is acceptable to both teams.