As trade rumors finally start to heat up around the Cincinnati Reds — see this item from Edward Creech at MLBTradeRumors.com — most of the attention is on backfilling the banged-up infield and solidifying the offense. The guy who seems to best fit these criteria is versatile Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays, but he figures to draw interest from a lot of teams. Is there a backup option available if the Reds miss out on Zobrist? Aside from internal candidates, one player who might work his way onto general manager Walt Jocketty’s radar is New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Murphy has not received the kind of attention that Zobrist has over the last few years, even though he plays in a much larger market, simply because he is nowhere near as good as Zobrist has been. Still, this season you could argue that Murphy has been the more valuable batter (2.5 v. 2.2 oWAR), and he has improved his defense enough to become just about league-average in 2014. He is also four years younger than Zobrist and makes a million dollars (or so) less, so Murphy does offer some upside.
Aside from a direct comparison with Zobrist, Murphy is arbitration eligible after this season and won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season, so he offers his team some salary stability for at least a year. He figures to afford better production than the Reds would receive from Kristopher Negron, their current replacement for the injured Brandon Phillips.
Daniel Murphy may not excite fans the way Ben Zobrist would, and he may not bring Zobrist’s versatility, but he might be able to help the Reds stay afloat in the crowded National League playoff race.