When he missed Opening Day for the birth of his first son, Noah, Daniel Murphy recalled the support he received "from the top of the organization to the bottom."
As talk radio hosts skewered Murphy for leaving the team, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins stayed in his corner. Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon was one of the first people to send a congratulatory text.
And when Murphy returned to his team, Wilpon had baby clothes waiting in the second baseman's locker.
"The organization has been really good to me," Murphy said.
After five straight losing seasons, the All-Star second baseman believes the Mets (45-50) stand on the brink of taking a major step forward, the biggest reason he'd be willing to discuss a contract extension.
"I want to be a part of it," said Murphy, 29. "I want to be here for the turn. I hope the turn is this year. I still think there's a lot of baseball left. I think 2014, we have a chance to play meaningful games in September and I want to be a part of that going forward, not only this year but in the future."
An extension remains far from a slam dunk, though, and Murphy said the sides haven't engaged in talks.
Alderson, who declined to discuss Murphy's contract status, is generally against long-term extensions. In Murphy's case, there are lingering questions about his defense and his ability to maintain discipline at the plate.
Also, the Mets have control of Murphy through 2015, thanks to a final season of arbitration, leaving plenty of time to hash out a potential long-term deal. He would be due a raise over his 2014 salary of $5.7 million.
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looming, industry sources expect Murphy to generate interest. With the Mets still lingering on the fringes of contention, a deal appears unlikely, but Murphy's value might never be higher.
During the offseason, the Mets expressed their willingness to trade Murphy in the right deal, only to be greeted with silence. According to a team insider, teams were put off by his relatively low on-base percentage and his lack of power, which have been common criticisms of his game.
But this season, with a more disciplined approach at the plate, Murphy is hitting .294/.342/.413 with seven homers and 37 RBIs. He is coming off his first appearance in the All-Star Game.
"He can hit," said a rival executive. "And there's not a lot of perfect players out there."
Though teams such as the Giants could be in the market for a second baseman, a talent evaluator said much of Murphy's value will be determined by how teams view his viability in the field.
"That bat isn't what has teams nervous," one rival evaluator said. "Patient or not patient, he's a hitter, and .300 hitters are hard to come by. How versatile he is defensively and his erratic [play] on the bases has some teams scared off.''
Of course, whether it's with an extension or without, keeping Murphy makes sense for the Mets. He has been a steady producer and his contact ability has played well at Citi Field.
For Murphy, an extension would mean far more than money. "The money is nice," he said. "But I couldn't spend the amount of money that I've made in two lifetimes. I'll let my son try to do that, but I don't think I can do it.''
A long-term deal would represent stability and the promise of opportunity.
"I think that anybody would be willing to listen to an extension," Murphy said. "They're not just passing out at-bats in this league. I don't know what the years or anything would look like. But at the point you come and say, 'Hey, we trust you with 600 at-bats [in each] of the next three to five years,' you're like, 'Yeah, I would like that.' ''
With David Lennon
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