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Daniel Murphy's incredible offseason isn't enough to justify a crazy contract

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An amazing postseason run has people wondering if the Mets should shell out for their free agent-to-be.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, the runaway story this postseason to this point has been the runaway success of Daniel Murphy, the Mets' soon-to-be free agent second baseman. Murphy hit three home runs in the Division Series to lead the Mets past the Dodgers, and has smacked another two to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. He made a fantastic baserunning play to help give the Mets the win over the Dodgers and a great diving stop to finish Game 1 against Chicago. He has been an absolute force to be reckoned with, to the point that the Cubs intentionally walked him in the third inning in Game 2, preferring to face Yoenis Cespedes, the guy who had a .942 OPS and 17 homers in 57 games after being traded over from the Tigers.

So now the Mets are faced with a decision: Do they shell out for Daniel Murphy or not? What is even a fair price for Murphy at this point? Has he raised it with this otherworldly performance? While his profile is undoubtedly raised, isn't he still the same 2-3 win player he was for the last five years? Let's take these questions in reverse order.

First, yes, he is still the same player he was for the last five years, regardless of how out of his mind he has played over his last five games. That player is an offensively minded second baseman who will post an on-base percentage between .320 and .340, and can be counted on for 35-40 doubles and 10-12 homers per year, but who is typically not an asset on the bases or in the field. Playoff hero or not, the relatively simple answer is that he is what he is. He's a good, but not great, player who is already 30, and who will almost certainly be either moved to third base or ineffective by the time his next contract ends. Second basemen do not age well, and Murphy is not exceptionally athletic in comparison to his peers.

So what is his value? Has he raised it? Maybe slightly, in that more teams might consider him as a viable option this offseason, but the overwhelming majority of teams will not be swayed by a flashy postseason. Even Pablo Sandoval's deal last offseason was primarily a reflection on his track record and the fact that he was only 27. On the other hand, depending on how you feel about Ben Zobrist's age and position, he may be the best second baseman on the market. Moreover, some of the biggest spenders out there, the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels, will likely be looking for second base help. Also, the Diamondbacks, Royals, White Sox, and Padres might be looking to upgrade.

Let's look at (non-first basemen) infielders from 2012-2014 who were between 29 and 32 and who were worth between 1.5 and 3.5 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, and who either became free agents that offseason or signed a multi-year extension:

Name

WAR

Year

Age

Tm

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

Contract

Jhonny Peralta

3.4

2013

31

DET

0.303

0.358

0.457

0.815

4 years, $53 million

Omar Infante

2.5

2013

31

DET

0.318

0.345

0.45

0.795

4 years, $30.25 million

J.J. Hardy

3.3

2014

31

BAL

0.268

0.309

0.372

0.682

3 years, $40 million

Hanley Ramirez

3.5

2014

30

LAD

0.283

0.369

0.448

0.817

4 years, $88 million

Kelly Johnson

1.8

2012

30

TOR

0.225

0.313

0.365

0.678

1 year, $2.45 million

Stephen Drew

3

2013

30

BOS

0.253

0.333

0.443

0.777

1 year, $10.1 million*

*Drew was tagged with a qualifying offer, and signed a pro-rated deal mid-2014 with the Red Sox.

It's a pretty eclectic mix. I think we can probably throw out Johnson and Hanley as comparisons. Ramirez had a longer and better track record before signing what has been an awful deal for the Red Sox after a year, and Johnson was something of a tweener who was given credit for an unprecedented amount of defensive value in 2012.

But still, we're dealing with a huge range. Infante signed for $7.6 million per year of guaranteed money, while Hardy and Peralta both settled for in excess of $13 million. Drew's heavily discounted contract stemmed from the qualifying offer the Red Sox gave him, and which he turned down. Hardy, Peralta, and Drew were, of course, all shortstops. So it's likely that Murphy would be forced to settle for something in between those two figures. Somewhere between $10-12 million per season seems fair, due to inflation, and probably for 3-4 years if he isn't saddled with a qualifying offer. It will be an overpay, like virtually all free agent deals, but one that has the potential to provide value for the first couple years of the contract.

Should the Mets shell that out? Given their presumably precarious financial situation, and that Murphy isn't really a player around which you can build, probably not. Kristie Acker, of the New York Daily News, suggests that they agree:

It appears nothing he does will keep him in Queens next season. Two team sources said again Sunday that Murphy, despite his postseason heroics, is not the Mets' future plans.

Instead, the team will be turning to Dilson Herrera. Herrera is going to be 22 and was one of the top 100 prospects in baseball heading into 2015. He batted .340/.406.560 in Binghamton in 2014 and .327/.382/.511 in the hitter's paradise that is Las Vegas in 2015. He seems to be poised to take over next year, where he can hopefully provide 80 percent of the value of Murphy for five percent of the price.

While minor league second basemen are notoriously unreliable, it's not really a debate. Herrera is the right call. Celebrate Murphy for what he's doing. Throw him a damn parade, but make it a parade out of town. Let someone else pay for his heroics if they want to.