Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

News & Notes: Daniel Murphy, Ty Kelly & early off-season trades

Daniel Murphy (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Daniel Murphy (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

On Friday, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy declined the club’s $15.8 million qualifying offer, making him eligible to sign with any the other 29 MLB teams. Despite a World Series performance to forget, Murphy should be able to land a multi-year deal this winter, so his decision is not much of a surprise.

And with Dilson Herrera waiting for an opportunity to take over at second base for major league minimum, the Mets never seemed all that interested in negotiating with Murphy. But while Herrera should provide better defense, it’s going to be important for a club that was already offensively challenged in 2015 to find a way to replace Murphy’s hitting contributions. Despite playing in just 130 games, Murphy was second on the 2015 Mets in hits, first in doubles and fifth in home runs.

Here’s hoping that Sandy Alderson has a plan.

Fifteen other players joined Murphy in rejecting qualifying offers yesterday, but for the first time since this system of free agent compensation was introduced, three players accepted. LHP Brett Anderson will return to the Dodgers, OF Colby Rasmus will return to the Astros and C Matt Wieters will return to the Orioles. I guess the powers that be will point to the shift as an indication that the system works, but it still seems like a way to artificially depress the salaries and options of a select group of baseball players.

The Mets have made their first player acquisition of the winter, minor league utility player Ty Kelly. Despite his spring training invitation, I see Kelly as a Triple-A depth move. And that’s fine, even with his disappointing 2015 minor league season. He plays five positions and even served as a mop-up relief pitcher in a game in 2014. But if there’s any thought that Kelly should be part of the Mets’ major league bench next year, it would seem very much like they’re settling for cheap baseball players again instead of trying for the best ones they can get.

Meanwhile, we’ve already seen a pair of high profile trades to mark a more exciting start to the Hot Stove season than I’m used to.

Atlanta sent SS Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for SS Erick Aybar and their two best prospects, LHP Sean Newcomb and RHP Chris Ellis. The Angels get better now, the Braves get better for the future and Aybar gets stuck on a team that’s likely to compete with the Phillies for the number one draft pick unless the Braves are able to flip him for another prospect. It’s gotta be hard to be a Braves fan watching your team dismantled like this.

The Boston Red Sox are clearly aiming to follow the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen formula, sending four prospects to the San Diego Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel. With 2015 Boston closer Koji Uehara sliding to the 8th inning role, the Red Sox have an impressive trio of Junichi Tazawa, Uehara and Kimbrel to close out games. If they can just improve their rotation a bit and stay healthy, Boston will have no trouble challenging the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.

For me, the fun part of this trade is going to be watching the Yankee fans watch to see what their team will do in response.

San Diego gets Boston’s overall top prospect, OF Manuel Margot, and three others who rated in the Red Sox’ top 30. But Boston’s organization is so deep that these players really only had value to the Red Sox as trade chips. The only question is whether Dave Dombrowski got enough in return for them.

So what do you think about the early off-season moves in baseball?