CTowards the end of his introductory press conference in the nation's capital on Thursday, new Washington Nationals' second baseman Daniel Murphy talked about the moment he realized he would not be returning to the Mets for what would have been eighth season in the majors with the franchise that drafted him in the 13th Round of the 2006 Draft.
"I guess New York had interest in Ben Zobrist and then quickly pivoted and traded for Neil Walker with Jonathon Niese," Murphy recalled, "and then they signed Asdrubal Cabrera as well too to kind of give the infield depth.
"When I looked up, and I saw Walker, Cabrera, [Ruben] Tejada, [Wilmer] Flores and David [Wright]. It didn't look like there was going to be a spot for us. That was okay."
Murphy, 30, turned down a qualifying offer (1-year/$15.8M) after a .281/.322/.449, 38 double, 14 home run, 2.5 fWAR campaign in 2015, then signed a 3-year/$37.5M deal with Washington after the Nationals tried to sign Zobrist too and tried trading for Reds' second baseman Brandon Phillips, who declined to waive his no-trade protection.
Murphy, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo explained, checked all the boxes and was familiar, having played in the same division throughout his career, so the negotiations moved along quickly.
"We look at the negotiations like we look at all negotiations," Rizzo said. "We put together a fit, the player fit the profile, fit the character, fit the make-up, the position was right, left-handed we were looking for, Seth Levinson and ACES, they're always a cooperative group, we've done business before in the past and usually when we dive in and get together there is no B.S. and we get things done relatively quickly.
"So, we identified the player we wanted, the type of person we wanted, the position and the fit, it all circled back to Daniel Murphy and the fact that I'd seen him play so many times and knew him from a scouting aspect so well, he really fit all the criteria that I was looking for in what we're trying to do here."
Murphy said that from his perspective, negotiations were, "... short, sweet and awesome."
"Those are good adjectives to use," he told reporters.
"Negotiations were swift and this is the place we wanted to be. Excited to be here and excited about what the 2016 team has to offer," he said at another point in the press conference.
"I've seen plenty of Daniel Murphy in my career," Rizzo said, "believe me. As a General Manager, often from the other side of the field. He's a player that plays the game the right way.
"We love his attitude, his grit, and when the bright lights of not only New York City, but the major league playoffs come, he shines the brightest."
In his first postseason run, Murphy hit two doubles and seven home runs in 14 games and 64 plate appearances.
He lamented the fact that he went just 3 for 20 with five walks and seven Ks in five World Series games after a 16 for 38 start to New York's run through the National League, which saw him homer in six straight games as the Mets beat first the Los Angeles Dodgers and then the upstart Chicago Cubs, and the fact that he committed costly errors in back-to-back losses in Games 4 and 5 with the Kansas City Royals.
"I would have preferred to catch that ball in Game 4 and Game 5, but I didn't and I think it's an opportunity to take a step back in the offseason and realize that there is work to be done defensively," Murphy said.
"I also wish that I would have swung the bat better in the World Series as well too, so again it's an opportunity to reflect and see how I can make quicker adjustments to teams that make adjustments to me."
Rizzo sounded excited about getting the left-handed bat the Nationals were reportedly after from the start this winter.
"The fact that he makes our lineup so long makes me feel good," he said when asked where he saw Murphy's bat in the lineup.
"Where is he going to hit? I want him to hit where he hits the most times, the more plate appearances the better for me.
"You're talking about a guy that struck out the least amount in all of Major League Baseball last year.
"He's a professional hitter. Can fall out of bed hitting. And he's shown it against us.
"He hits good pitchers, he hits lefties/righties, there's no splits, and he hits it like I said, when the lights get brighter, he hits better."