It surely was not the move that fans had hoped for coming into the offseason. The dream scenario for Nats fans would have been resigning Ian Desmond, and… moving Trea Turner to second I guess, or sticking with Danny Espinosa there. After recently missing out on
Heyward, Zobrist, O’Day Brandon Phillips they landed Daniel Murphy. The second baseman signed what is reported to be a 3 year $37.5 million contract. This move will cost the Nationals their first round draft pick, but it will be worth it in the long run.
The Murphy signing was important to the Nationals because coming into the offseason they needed one more player to finalize their infield headed into 2016. Wilson Ramos is the catcher, Ryan Zimmerman sits at first base, Anthony Rendon takes third base, and Trea Turner/Espinosa look poised to start the season at shortstop. The only hole that remained was at second base.
To be perfectly honest, I was not completely pleased when I saw this news. Murphy made noise this postseason, having a great NLCS. However, he did not show up in the World Series like Mets fans had hoped. That does not mean he is a poor second baseman. The main downside to Murphy’s game is his defense. Nationals fans poked plenty of fun at this aspect of his game, but now they will have to learn and embrace it.
The fact that Murphy is a left-handed hitter was also a huge plus. The Nationals missed another consistent left-handed bat besides Harper in the lineup. Murphy gives them such. Murphy is not an elite hitter, but he has been better than average in his career. He has batted .288 in his career, and some analysts think that his postseason outbreak could be a stepping point for an improvement in his hitting. IF that is the case the Nationals have struck gold.
He will only be making an average of $12.5 million, which is a steal compared to the fact that this time about two months ago fans were wondering if he could make $20 million per year. Sure the Nats lost their first round pick, but they will get two first round picks from the Tigers and whomever signs Ian Desmond. That softens the blow of giving up their current pick.
Between now and the reporting of pitchers and catchers, the Nationals still need to add at least a couple more bullpen pieces. It appears that they are in the market for another starter to fit at the back of their rotation, although it is not a necessity. They also could want a center fielder/lead-off guy(looking at you Denard Span) if they decide Michael A. Taylor is not ready for a fulltime gig in 2016. But the bullpen and corresponding Storen/Papelbon moves will be the most crucial part of this offseason. If Rizzo whiffs on this, he could be killing another shot for this team to win a ring.
The main upside to signing Murphy was adding the left-handed bat to their everyday lineup. If injuries were to hit the team in 2016, Murphy presents a versatile option, having played in the outfield and first base in his career. T There is a chance that I could end up hating this signing by July, but I am willing to give Murphy a shot. This is a low risk move by Mike Rizzo, who has underwhelmed me so far this offseason, one that helps keep them afloat in the NL playoff race. While the Mets still have a killer rotation, they do not really have an offense, something that was a hindrance to their success before trading for Cespedes. The Mets can be beaten, and the Nationals have shown in 2012 and 2014 that they can be one of the best teams in the league. Good for Rizzo for finally going out and getting someone to help the Nationals get back to the postseason.
Ted Van Green
Spark Sports Analyst