CHICAGO -- Daniel Murphy's postseason run has been so cartoonish, so unexpected in the context of his personal history, that the Mets are reevaluating their stance on his future. A New York Post report on Wednesday put in definite terms what team officials have hinted at for days: the Mets will extend Murphy a $15.8 million qualifying offer this winter.
That is by no means an indication of the club's ultimate interest in him, though one Mets official acknowledged that it does represent the front office's evolving view on the second baseman. Throughout this postseason run and even the second half of this regular season, Murphy's DNA has changed; he has become more pull-centric, sacrificing his all-field tendencies for more power. That is far more in line with what the Mets value from hitters, making them less wary of extending Murphy a qualifying offer.
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Should he reject it, like every other free agent in the history of the one-year qualifying offer, the Mets will earn a compensatory Draft pick if he signs elsewhere. But should he accept it, the team will receive one more year of Murphy at what appears to be a reasonable market value.
The same forces that ease the Mets' concerns over making him a qualifying offer, however, increase the already strong chance he will reject it. Agents and executives have long pegged Murphy's value at around $10 million per season over three or four years. But his otherworldly postseason run, including home runs in five straight games and six in total, could bump that ever higher. It has reached the point that one reporter, immediately following the Mets' National League Championship Series Game 3 victory, asked Murphy "how much money" he thinks he's made this postseason.
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"That's an offseason question," Murphy replied. "And fortunately right now, four teams don't have to answer offseason questions."
Murphy has been markedly consistent over the past four seasons, averaging 148 games played, a .742 OPS, 10 home runs and 12 steals. A 13th-round Draft pick in 2006, he made his first All-Star team last season.
But the Mets do not necessarily need Murphy in the future, with 21-year-old second baseman Dilson Herrera having proven all he can at Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets could proceed far more cheaply with a middle infield of Herrera, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Matt Reynolds in some combination, allowing Murphy to walk via free agency.
A Mets official emphasized that the team cannot come to a definite conclusion regarding Murphy until after this postseason, because its 2016 budget is not yet set. But it's clear now that the club will not lose Murphy without a parting gift: if not another year of his services, than at least a Draft pick should he decide to leave.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.