Major League Baseball's offseason hot stove is officially underway, and Rockies fans have their first piece of potentially significant news. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the club has internally discussed going after free agent Daniel Murphy—not to play second base, but to take over as a full-time first baseman after the departure of veteran Justin Morneau:
Sources: The #Rockies have discussed internally the possibility of signing free agent Daniel Murphy to play first base.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 7, 2015
Murphy is coming off a strong year in which he slashed .281/.322/.449—a 110 wRC+—and put up 2.5 fWAR in 538 plate appearances. He also had a very strong postseason that saw him hit an impressive .328/.391/.724 on his way to becoming NLCS MVP. Murphy has also been a surprisingly strong defensive first baseman in his career. In just over 1500 innings at the position, Murphy has 20 Defensive Runs Saved and a 7.0 Ultimate Zone Rating.
In spite of all that, a Murphy signing may not be the best move for the club. According to the outstanding MLB Trade Rumors, Murphy is the 17th best free agent on the market and would command a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of four years and $56 million. That number is probably roughly equivalent to the value Murphy would give a team on the field right now, but a player of Murphy's caliber really doesn't do anything to take the Rockies from the 68-94 club they were in 2015 to a team who has a legitimate shot at contention, whether in 2016 or after.
Murphy will also turn 31 before opening day next season and would lose a good amount of offensive value if he were to move to first base. Among second basemen, Murphy's 110 wRC+ in 2015 was eighth out of the 26 second basemen who had at least 450 plate appearances. However, that 110 wRC+ would've put Murphy just 19th out of 27 first basemen, taking him from well above average to well below average relative to his positional peers.
Signing Murphy would also cost the Rockies their pick in the Competitive Balance Round A, which comes after the conclusion of the first round. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Rockies have third pick in that round. Although it is not known at which pick it will begin, it will be somewhere between picks 31 and 40; however, the pick could even be in the low 20s if enough teams give up draft picks by signing other free agents with qualifying offers attached. Some players the Rockies have secured at that point in the draft include Nolan Arenado, Ryan McMahon, Forrest Wall, and Trevor Story.
For a club that is pretty clearly in the rebuilding stage, signing a player like Daniel Murphy doesn't make a lot of sense on the surface. Of course, it's still very early in the offseason and there's a good chance that nothing ever comes to fruition here. Be sure to stay tuned, we'll have updates on this story as it develops.