Daniel Murphy: Power and Money(?)

Daniel Murphy has been on a power surge this postseason, with 5 home runs in 7 games.
Daniel Murphy has been on a power surge this postseason, with 5 home runs in 7 games.

In the hours it takes me to write this, Daniel Murphy has probably saved at least three kittens from burning trees. But for the sake of time, let’s just try to cover what he’s doing one elegant bat flip at a time.

Daniel Murphy has homered again. This calls for us to have some fun with numbers (and money) and see just how many dollars has been put into not letting Daniel Murphy hit those home runs, and how many dollars will be headed Murphy’s way as a result.

For the fifth time this postseason, Murphy took an opposing ace deep to right field.

Take a look at whom he’s homered off of: (in order of home run)

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw

Zack Greinke

Jon Lester

Jake Arrieta

To get a better idea of just how good this group of 4 pitchers is, here’s their combined Wins Above Replacement for 2015:

Kershaw: 8.6

Arrieta: 7.3

Grienke: 5.9

Lester: 5.0

26.8 WAR

That’s pretty good, mainly because teams like the Phillies would love to have that kind of production from their entire roster.

Daniel Murphy has been torching the best pitching MLB has to offer this postseason.
Daniel Murphy has been torching the best pitching MLB has to offer this postseason.

How does WAR translate to dollars?

This winter, free agents will sign contracts valued roughly at 8 million dollars per win above replacement level. Meaning, the value of the four aforementioned pitchers is roughly 214.4 Million Dollars for just the 2015 season.

How much money did those pitchers actually make this year?

71.6 Million

How much money did Daniel Murphy make this year?

8 Million

We’re throwing a lot of numbers and dollar figures around, but what we’re trying to figure out is just how much money were Murphy’s home runs worth to not only the Mets, but to Daniel Murphy.

We can start off with Murphy’s own salary.

To understand just how much money he should make, we have to figure out what exactly Daniel Murphy is.

Is Daniel Murphy just an average second baseman with average tools? Have his postseason heroics done anything to change that? To answer the first question, his numbers would suggest he’s just one level above average.

2013: .286/.319/.415 13 HRs 78 RBIs 697 PAs 3.1 WAR

2014: .289/.332/.403 9 HRs 57 RBIs 642 PAs 2.5 WAR

2015: .281/.322/.449 14 HRs 73 RBIs 538 PAs 2.5 WAR

That’s more than solid production out of the second base position. As a general rule of thumb, any player with a WAR over 2.0 is considered an above average player.

For Murphy, he’s produced at better than league average for each of the past three seasons, without making much money. His first time through arbitration in 2013 netted him a $2.9 Million dollar salary. His salary rose to $5.7 Million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015. All total, Murphy has made approximately $16.6 Million in the past three seasons and produced 8.1 wins above a replacement level player.

What has his value been in terms of WAR to dollars? If we adjust for inflation and make the market value of a win 6 Million dollars in 2013, 7 million in 2014, and 8 million in 2015, Murphy’s value shakes out to this:

2013

2.5 WAR

$15 Million

2014

2.5 WAR

$17.5 Million

2015

3.1 WAR

24.8 Million

Murphy’s 8.1 WAR since 2013 is roughly worth $57.3 Million dollars.

Obviously, players are almost never paid like this. It’s extremely common to find homegrown players outperform their pre-arbitration and arbitration contracts. However, Murphy’s contract is up at the end of this postseason and the Mets have a big decision to make.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 15: Daniel Murphy #28 of the New York Mets follows through on a second inning run scoring sacrifice fly against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on June 15, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 15: Daniel Murphy #28 of the New York Mets follows through on a second inning run scoring sacrifice fly against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on June 15, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Qualifying Offer?

 What is a qualifying offer?

Simply put, a qualifying offer is a one-year contract offer teams can make to their own players who are about to hit free agency. The salary number is the same amount across Major League Baseball. The qualifying offer amount is calculated by averaging the top 125 player salaries in baseball. This year, the qualifying offer will be $15.8 Million dollars for the 2016 season.

Here’s the catch: If a player is given the offer and declines, he then has draft-pick compensation attached to his next contract. What that means is if he signs with a different team, that team then loses their first round draft pick for next year’s draft. Also, the team who loses the free agent is rewarded with a compensation pick, which is placed at the end of the first round and typically falls in the 33-43 pick range.

We can see that there is a draft pick to be gained for the Mets if Murphy were to leave. However, is the risk of having Murphy on the team for $15.8 Million dollars worth the chance at the draft pick? Is doubling the salary of a slightly above average player worth it?

And we also have the big question:

Have his post-season heroics made him more money already?

The answer is yes.

Will it be from the Mets? Probably not. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily news reported yesterday that two Mets sources have said the team does not plan on retaining Murphy next season. We can safely assume that this means no qualifying offer either, as Murphy could realistically accept the offer given the market value for a player of his caliber

What is Murphy’s market value this offseason?

Joel Sherman of the New York post wrote that after speaking to multiple executives, Murphy may be in line for a contract similar to Chase Headley’s 4-year, $52 million dollar deal.

Personally, I saw JJ Hardy’s 3-year, 40 million dollar deal as a comparable contract. However, Murphy has shown more consistent power over the last three seasons, not to mention his postseason outburst. Hardy, while showing some great power numbers for a shortstop, was not as consistent of an offensive producer. Hardy showed most of his value with the glove, producing very similar WAR totals the three seasons before he signed his deal. In the three seasons before signing his new deal, Hardy’s WAR totals were at 2.4, 3.3, and 3.3.

Hardy had a higher WAR average than Murphy now has in the three-season sample size, yet Murphy is projected to earn an extra year and over 10 Million dollars more over the life of his next contract.

Has his monster postseason played a role in his rising stock? Absolutely. Not only has Murphy put up Pablo Sandoval type numbers, he’s also hit for power. Power is earning more and more dollars on the open market. This winter, we’ll probably see Chris Davis sign a contract close to $200 Million Dollars while Dee Gordon will sign an extension around $60 million dollars. Murphy has homered 19 times in less than 600 plate appearances in 2015, well above average power for a second baseman.

Power talks. Not only can a few swings win a postseason series, they can change the entire outlook on a player.

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