Now that Daniel Murphy has signed on with the Washington Nationals, the question of the day focuses on how New York Mets fans will react come summer.
By David Hong
Former New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy finally found a home on Christmas Eve.
Ironically, it’s with the Mets biggest current division rivals, the Washington Nationals. He and the Nats came to terms on a three-year term.
This means Murphy will get to play his former team at least 19 times a season, and with the Mets and Nats being the top tiers in the National League East, it could get interesting.
What will be most interesting is how Mets fans will greet Murphy in his first at bat at Citi Field next season.
Will they cheer him in appreciation for what he’s done here? Or will they boo him because he went to the Mets chief NL East rival?
Prior to his new deal, Murphy, as we all know, grew up in the Mets farm system and spent his entire career with the Mets.
He wasn’t a star caliber player (although he did make the NL All-Star team in 2014), but he was an above average player who always gave it his all despite some of his limitations.
He was a solid contact hitter, hitting close to .300 with decent power. He was the toughest player to strike out last season and always put a tough at bat.
His best offensive moment clearly was in the 2015 NLDS and NLCS this past October when he hit a home run in six straight postseason games, incredibly establishing a new MLB record. He also hit a homer in each of the four games in the NLCS vs the Chicago Cubs, earning him the NLCS MVP.
He did have some shortcomings, especially on the defensive side at second base. Murphy was considered an average fielder. While he made some fine plays there, he also made a lot of boneheaded, head scratching plays. None more evident then in the World Series this past season when Murphy made key errors in Games 4 and 5 in the latter innings, fueling the Kansas City Royals rally in both games on their way to being World Series champions.
So how should Mets fans greet him?
I know it’s a tough call because he joined a division rival, let alone their biggest competitor and in sports these days, fans don’t take it kindly when their former player jumps to a division rival, let alone sign with them.
I remember going to see the Mets play the Miami Marlins back in 2012 when Jose Reyes made his return to Citi Field after signing a mega deal with Miami. The Mets did a video tribute for him and some fans cheered for him but there were others who booed. There were more boos than I thought, considering Reyes was an All Star player for the Mets and was one of the best offensive players the Mets ever had. Maybe its probably because Reyes signed with a division rival even though the Mets never seriously considered signing him in the offseason.
So how will it be like for Murph since he signed with the team that will pose the biggest threat to the Mets winning the NL East again?
You know what though. Murphy was in a similar situation that Reyes was in back in 2011 as a free agent. The Mets were also not seriously engaged in re-signing Murphy. It was almost the end of the year and Murphy had to find somewhere. Even though it wasn’t a four year deal that many expected him to get, he still got a pretty rich three year deal, worth around $37.5 million total.
In Murphy’s case it was clear the Mets moved on from Murph when they traded for Neil Walker to play second base and also signed Asdrubal Cabrera.
Personally, I was hoping Murphy signed with any team other than the Nationals. But hey, that’s sports sometimes.
It will be weird seeing Murphy in a Nationals uniform, but I’ve seen stranger cases.
I’m guessing there’ll be mixed reactions and I understand the bitterness that might grow out from some fans after he signed with the Nats but I still believe Murphy deserves his due and receive an ovation for what he’s accomplished here.
The thing is that the Mets simply were not interested in giving him a three or four year deal because they thought it was too much for him. So they decided to go in a different direction at second base which was understandable.
In Murphy’s case time was starting to run out for him. Not a lot of teams offered him deals as the Nats were one of the few. Sure we’d rather have seem him go anywhere outside of the NL East, but the Nats seemed to have been the most aggressive, compared to other pursuers in going after Murphy so in the end, I guess that was the best fit for him. I’m sure Murphy didn’t sign with the Nats to stick it at the Mets for not going after him. He made his decision, probably just what he thought was best for him and his family.
Murphy was always a fine player for the Mets. He was always a disciplined hitter who was always studious about the game. He always gave it his all. He may have made some dumb decision on the basepaths and on the field but the effort was never in question in whatever he did as a ball player.
He was also a class act and a professional off the field too. No one said a bad word about him and that showed what kind of a person and teammate, Murphy was.
Of course, Mets fans should never forget his NLDS and NLCS record setting home run performances which were unbelievable and simply Amazin.
I know a lot of people were down on him in the end when he disappeared both offensively and defensively in the World Series but Murphy clearly has done more good than bad in his Mets tenure.
He may have jumped to a bitter rival but Murphy still was a great Met and his accomplishments here will never be forgotten.
Thanks for the memories Murphy. Once a Met, always a Met.