When SNY's cameras pan to Daniel Murphy in the dugout of a closely contested game, you'll see it all out on his sleeve. Each strike thrown to a batter is met with a look of concern, while each base hit is greeted with applause and an enthusiastic reaction. Just as he lives and dies with each pitch, Murphy is often the first on the field after a walk-off and the first to believe that the team is going to reach its full potential. It's this type of energy that has made Murphy a fan favorite in Flushing despite his reputation as a sub-par defender, whether the reputation is fair or not.
Which raises the question: Why would the Mets consider the 27-year old as trade bait?
Murphy, at 27, will be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2013 and is under team control through 2016, his age 31 season. Playing at a position where offense is hard to come by, Murphy is a perennial .300 hitter and has the stamina to play 150+ games a year. Murphy's "Gamer" style of play will resonate with any fan-base and he is only continuing to realize his true potential. While he won't hit 15-home runs in a season, his line drive power and ability to work a count are invaluable to a team.
It's for all these reasons that Murphy is a valuable commodity, yet at least part of the fan base believes that Murphy should become trade bait for a starting pitcher later in the season with the continued development of Jordanny Valdespin. Valdespin, 24, is a superior defender and has more potential power in his bat, but with only 10 big league plate appearances it's hard to argue that he's the answer to replace Murphy. He may hit 17-home runs in the big leagues as he did in the minors in 2011, but that's not a guarantee his first year in the big leagues. His average and OBP are also considerably less than what Murphy can contribute.
Trading Daniel Murphy for a starting pitcher to contend this year would be a foolish move on Sandy Alderson's part and would go against the precedent he set when he inked Jonathon Niese to a five year extension early this spring: Work hard and you'll be guaranteed a spot on the team for the foreseeable future and will be compensated accordingly. In addition to going against Alderson's precedent, trading Murphy for a starting pitcher creates a depth problem. Assume that Ruben Tejada or Valdespin have injuries, would Ronny Cedeno or Justin Turner really pique someone's interest as a starting player for a prolonged period of time?
Murphy isn't the perfect player. His defense, while improving, will still cause many to pull their hair out in frustration. The thing about Murphy, though, is that he's the heart and soul of this club. David Wright plays the role of the seasoned veteran and longest tenured Met while possessing a calm, cons ice attitude. Murphy, meanwhile, displays the type of emotion that helps to rally both a team and a fan base that's an essentially element to any successful team.
Daniel Murphy could very well be trade bait. For all of the reasons listed above, it's hard to see why a team wouldn't want a player of his caliber starting somewhere (Even DH). However, Murphy shouldn't be trade bait.
What do you think? Is Daniel Murphy going to be traded this season, or are people overreacting?