Reese Kaplan -- Mets Face Another Hard Day's Knight


Back in 1986 the Mets were fresh off the legendary Game 6 comeback, but the team found itself trailing in the decisive Game 7. A rainout allowed the Red Sox to bring back southpaw Bruce Hurst for a third time and he'd already won his two starts. The Mets depended on current broadcaster Ron Darling to lead them to glory.

An interesting side note to that game was the presumed starter, Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was so incensed at having been bypassed for his opportunity to deliver the title to the Red Sox, he went into the locker room and began hitting the adult beverages hard, so much so that he was rendered too drunk to make a game appearance if needed.

Despite having done well in his previous World Series appearances, this night was not Darling's finest moment. Almost immediately he gave up three runs and by the 4th inning he was lifted for Sid Fernandez. He held the BoSox at bay but the team had not done anything at against Hurst.

However, in the 6th inning the Mets finally got on the board with the first two runs coming off the bat of the late Gary Carter plating Mookie Wilson and Lee Mazzilli. Keith Hernandez then drove in pinch runner Wally Backman with the game tying run, but Darryl Strawberry was retired, leaving it a whole new ballgame, tied 3-3 going into the 7th.

The Sox were forced to use the overworked former Met Calvin Schiraldi due to Boyd's intoxication. Game 6 winning run scorer Ray Knight led off, deposited a long ball over the wall and for the first time all night Mets fans breathed something of a sigh of relief with Queens' finest in front. Rafael Santana and Keith Hernandez drove in some insurance run and as the 7th ended the Mets held a 6-3 lead.

In the 8th the Red Sox woke up and narrowed the gap to a single run, and when the Mets came up in the bottom of the inning the score was a razor thin 6-5. Darryl Strawberry led off with a home run to give a little bit of cushion and then Ray Knight followed with a single, moving to second on a groundout and scoring on a single off the unlikely bat of Jesse Orosco. They held on won the game 8-5.

All of this background is necessary in order to set the context for what happened with World Series MVP Ray Knight. He held the dubious distinction of being the first player ever cut loose by a team during the off-season following a post-season MVP award. He went onto finish his career with the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers.

Fresh off his MVP performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers, history may repeat itself in the case of Daniel Joseph Murphy. Everyone is well aware of his pending free agency and the team will once again find themselves in a somewhat no-win situation of whether or not to retain his services.

Many advocate the team extend Murphy a Qualifying Offer worth about $15.6 million dollars. The logic is that no one ever accepts them, and if Murphy departs to sign with another team the Mets would receive a compensation pick back to balance out the one they lost when they signed Michael Cuddyer.

The fallacy here is that Cuddyer was facing the end of his career and taking a QO would not guarantee a payday for the 2016 season. By rejecting it, Cuddyer was able to parlay it into a $22 million contract, thus earning an extra $6 million plus.

Murphy's situation is quite different. He's just 30 years old and is probably set up for a three year deal in the $11-$12 million per year range. Let's say for the sake of argument he gets an offer of three years and $33 million. By turning that down and accepting the Mets' QO of $15.6 million, he's obtained nearly half that amount and will be a free agent again just a year later. It's unlikely his salary would drop to two years at the $8 million level which is where it would have to fall to make the $33 million guarantee marginally more lucrative.

Therefore the Mets are on the horns of a dilemma. Do you offer a long term contract to Murphy, hedging your bets against the frail health of David Wright, knowing you still have Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera available to help, or do you extend the QO? Doing so removes $15 million which could be put to securing the services of Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward or another FA outfielder. You would then be handing the 2B duties to either Flores or Herrera, leaving less protection should Wright hit another long DL stint.

Letting Murphy go becomes an increasingly difficult PR situation, but is it good business to retain him? If so, is it a one year QO or a longer term deal?


That Adam Smith said...

Make him the Qualifying Offer. He very well might take it, figuring that with a decent season he'll still be in line for the same kind of FA deal next year at 31 that he would get this year. If not, I'd offer him a 3/33 type deal, with a draft pick coming back if he rejects that as well. He provides insurance at three IF positions (all of which will be question marks next year), you know that he can perform in NY in big spots, he's done everything the team has ever asked of him without complaint, and he seems to fit well in the clubhouse. Is he a perfect player? No. But he fits this team's needs as well or better than anyone you could replace him with at the price.

Tom Brennan said...

I'd give him 3/$33. He's worth it.

Question: if we go 7 games in world series, how much do the Wilpo s stand to net. They should have a huge windfall.

Unknown said...

What more could you ask of the guy? I know he's had his share of fielding issues and base running adventures during the course of his career but we just beat a team with a payroll almost THREE TIMES our's and we wouldn't have won w/o him plain and simple. As far as money goes the Wilpon's said they'd spend when the fans came back....well here we are! Frankly it's embarrassing that were talking about one year 15 mil or 3/33 as if it's too much...really! Look Freddy and Saul have to get real here because we're years from the Madoff mess and either we are a big market team or we're not...it's up to them but the old excuses don't wash anymore.

Reese Kaplan said...

Cespedes+Herrera is likely much greater than Lagares+Murphy. A QO might keep the Mets from pursuing Cespedes or another FA outfielder.

Of course, they could go another way and trade Lucas Duda, sliding Murphy to 1B or playing Cuddyer rather than having him sit on the bench.

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