It’s official: postseason-hero-turned-goat Daniel Murphy has agreed on a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Washington Nationals, per ESPN’s Jim Bowden. The second baseman rejected the New York Mets $15.8 million, one year qualifying offer earlier in the offseason. As a result, the Nationals must surrender their first round draft pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft, number seventeen overall, as compensation for the signing.
Murphy has been a solid major league bat for some time now, but it was in the 2015 National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs that he found his was into the spotlight. Murphy set a big league record by hitting home runs in six consecutive games on his way to earning NLCS MVP honors. However, in the World Series, facing the eventual champion Kansas City Royals, Murphy’s bat fell silent and his glove betrayed him. He committed several very costly errors over the course of the series that would allow the Royals to build insurmountable leads.
Murphy began his MLB career in 2008 with the Mets. Since then, he has recorded a .288 average with sixty-two home runs and 402 runs batted in. He has hit under .281 in a season just once in his seven-years in the league.
Though his glove is, at times, a bit suspect, Murphy’s best attribute might be his versatility in the field. He has experience at first base, second base, and third base, and can play the outfield when asked to do so. For a Nationals squad searching for infield options following the breakdown of a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips, signing Murphy makes a good deal of sense.
For their part, the Nationals are coming off an abysmal season. Following lofty offseason expectations, the Nats finished 2015 in second place in the NL East, seven games behind the Mets. However, their 83-79 record really does not accurately portray how poorly they played down the stretch, at how dysfunctional they were as a team. Their issues seemed to reach their apex when closer Johnathan Papelbon choked star slugger Bryce Harper during an altercation in the dugout, at it all led to the firing of manager Matt Williams.
Dusty Baker has been brought in to man the helm for 2016, and Murphy seems to be the next step in the process of changing the culture in Washington. He brings with him playoff experience and a postseason-tested bat. The Nationals certainly hope he can help them get at least to where the Mets found themselves last October.