Astros: Could Daniel Murphy be a target if the Nationals sell?
By Eric Huysman
Daniel Murphy could be a sneaky good trade target for the Astros if the Nationals decide to sell.
After a four-game losing streak, it is easy to feel like you need to make a move to get something going. After losing to the Rangers on Sunday, Astros manager AJ Hinch said that he is not going to panic after the three-game sweep. There are so many ups and down to a season, it is surprising that this is the first this year that they have a four-game losing streak. That’s how good this team is, but it could get better with one more trade.
While fans may be hoping for a move to get Bryce Harper, that’s just not the Astros style. Look at the trades that they have made, fans wanted J.T. Realmuto, but they traded for Martin Maldonado. Not saying it was a bad trade, but it was more of an under the radar move. Maldonado may not help a lot with the bat, but he can impact the game defensively. Fans wanted Zach Britton, but they got Ryan Pressly instead.
The Nationals have been engaged in trade talks for some of their veterans according to Jeff Passan.
Why would the Nationals be selling? We discussed this the other day here. But it was a big topic on last night’s Talking Stros. Buster Olney tweeted out earlier that the perception around baseball was the outcome of Sunday’s game would tell if they will sell. Unfortunately, the Nationals lost their last game before the deadline, and they are 52-53. They sit only six games outs of first place, but the Phillies and Braves look legit.
The National League has more teams in the hunt, so getting the Wild Card berths will be like a big fight scene from Anchorman. So if the Nationals do decide to sell, who could the Astros be interested in. The first thought would be a reliever, with Kelvin Herrera being the most intriguing option. However, the Astros would like to add another bat. One name that came up during last night’s show was Daniel Murphy.
Would Murphy fit the need?
Murphy has missed some time this year with an injury. He has only played 37 games this year, with the majority of his starts at second base. He also can play first base and has played third base in the past. Yes, that sounds like Marwin Gonzalez without the ability to play shortstop or the outfield. When Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa return, Murphy would rotate between positions allowing Gonzalez to play left field. Murphy also played left field early in his career and adds left-handed power.
Murphy is batting .271 with two homers and 17 RBI in 115 at bats this year, stats from Baseball-Reference. While his stock may be down, the 33-year-old infielder batted .322 with 23 homers and 93 RBI in 2017. When healthy, he can be one of the best hitters in the game. He is making $17.5 million this year, so whatever team trades for him will take on the remainder of the contract. For that reason, he may come more affordable than other options.
The Astros could take on the rest of the salary while sending back a couple of prospects. While Murphy may not be the sexy choice, he could have a Justin Verlander like addition to the lineup. If Kyle Tucker is not ready this time around, Murphy would be able to fill in for him this year. If you look at the Astros roster, they like position flexibility. Murphy would add to that, plus will keep Yuli Gurriel off second base.