By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Given the type of postseason he’s had so far, it’s hard to believe that Daniel Murphy may well end up playing his way out of Flushing.
Believe it, though. And the question now is not whether Sandy Alderson will be allowed to meet a number that seems to increase its zeroes with every at-bat, but whether he’ll try at all.
The reality is, the Mets may not even attempt to sign the two players who got them to their 5-2, Game 3 win in Chicago — Murphy, whose six homers and nine RBI after Tuesday’s third-inning shot has carved him a legendary niche in Mets postseason history, and Yoenis Cespedes, the late-slugging acquisition who made the postseason possible in the first place.
Despite their differences as players, they are not mutually exclusive. Actually, Fred Wilpon’s pocketbook will probably tie them at the hip. Unless the owner comes down with a sudden case of budgetary generosity, he certainly won’t pay for Cespedes, despite the 17 homers and 44 RBI the Tigers’ import delivered since his July 31 arrival. Those numbers, compiled over a two-month span, will combine with his 18 homers and 61 RBI in Detroit to attract a rather large bag of money.
It’s hard to believe that the Wilpons will let go of at least $100 million, probably more, over five years, even for a proven, long-haul hitter like the Cuban.
Now consider Murphy. Even if the baseballs continue to look like beach balls for however long the Mets’ collective postseason magic lasts, it’s no guarantee the Mets re-sign him. In fact, the longer he keeps producing, the worse the odds.
Not that Wilpon and Alderson don’t love the guy. They’ve never had any doubts about his popularity, second only to David Wright. They loved how he willingly helped out at third during Wright’s extended absence.
But as a player — that’s all that really counts when talking about the dough — he is solid but not spectacular. Before the protection Cespedes afforded came along, he’d hit just six of his 14 regular-season homers.
That’s the beauty of this current streak. Nobody saw it coming.
Tying Carlos Beltran’s 11-year-old, major league record of five straight playoff games with a homer? Impossible.
But getting back to the real world, the Mets were always on the fence about re-signing him, even if the price remained at the $8 million he was paid this year.
It hasn’t, by the way. Heady base running, the power show, the defense, and the overall hitting that produced a .357/.379/.929 postseason slash going into Tuesday’s game will all bump that tag up several million bucks per year.
Alderson will have to ask himself whether signing a two-week wonder to what could be a four-year, $52 million deal is worth it, especially since their long-baller, Cespedes, priced himself out before the playoffs even started.
The safe play, as laid out by The Daily News, could be to offer up two years, $24 million. If he’s smart, the 30-year-old Murphy will look for more security than that. He‘ll wait to see if a team with looser purse strings like the Yanks or Indians or Marlins steps forward.
Someone will. General managers love to project temporary eruptions into long-term results. He’ll get his money and his years.
It just won’t come from the Mets. They’d probably never get into a bidding war over Murphy.
If they do, check the calendar. The end of the world might be upon us.
More likely, Murphy will follow the same path as Cespedes — the road to elsewhere.
So enjoy the ride for however long it lasts, and appreciate the irony that Murphy’s last act as a Met could well involve him belting a home run in the ninth inning of the decisive game of the World Series.
It’ll be the last of his at-bats the Mets can afford.
Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino