It's that time of the year again, when we get to indulge in everyone's favorite pastime: Spending AGM (Another Guy's Money). In our case, that guy is Hal Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the New York Yankees, who did a pretty good job of spending his own money in 2015; the Yankees' Opening Day payroll was north of $217 million, second-highest in the game. But Hal can always do better -- with our help, of course -- and over the next couple of weeks, Andrew Marchand and I will examine some of the goodies the Baby Boss can buy on the free-agent market this winter.
We kick it off with a true area of need for the 2016 Yankees: second base.
2015 numbers: $8M salary, .281, 14 HR, 73 RBIs, .770 OPS, 2.5 WAR (Fangraphs)
Opening Day age: 31
PROS: Murphy is a versatile player who can play second, third and first base. He's a contact hitter who drastically cut down his strikeouts in 2015 -- 38 as opposed to 86 in 2014 and 95 in 2013. He's not a power hitter despite his postseason home-run surge; still, he's a left-handed hitter with enough pop to hit 14 home runs last season and will benefit, as all lefty swingers do, from the homer-friendly right-field seats at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees got a combined .223-21-64 and .683 OPS from their second-base conglomeration of Dustin Ackley, Stephen Drew, Gregorio Petit, Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder and Brendan Ryan, so Murphy's numbers alone would represent an improvement.
CONS: Although he plays three infield positions -- and has played some outfield -- Murphy doesn't play any of them particularly well, a flaw that was on national display during the World Series, in which he made two crushing errors. Also, he cooled off drastically in the WS after a Carlos Beltran-like display in the NLDS and NLCS. Presumably, his stock dropped over those final five games to the point where the Mets -- who have publicly stated their intention to let Murphy walk -- may not even tender him the $15.8 million qualifying offer, making him more attractive to potential bidders. However, he is likely to seek a four- or five-year deal at upward of $10 million a year. Do the Yankees think he is that good a player, especially with the built-in adjustment period it normally takes for players who are moving from one league to another?
THE VERDICT: Pass. This probably would have been different had the Mets' season ended with the NLCS, after which the Yankees would have been obliged to at least kick the tires. But they have already given out a similar contract to Chase Headley, and that one has serious potential to become an albatross -- if it hasn't already. They don't need another one. Plus, there will be other attractive candidates on the market who can do what Murphy does, and they can do it better.