It was in a Mets uniform that Daniel Murphy turned himself into a big-league player. He went from an unheralded 13th-round draft pick in 2006 to an All-Star in 2014.
This postseason, he etched himself into franchise lore, homering in six straight playoff games and lifting the Mets to their first pennant since 2000.
Now an uncertain future beckons for Murphy, a free agent who will be courted by other teams.
"I like it here," Murphy said on Monday after what might be his final appearance with the Mets, a 7-2, 12-inning loss to the Royals Sunday in Game 5 of the World Series. "I'd like to come back. We'll have to see."
The Mets almost certainly will extend Murphy a qualifying offer for $15.8 million, mostly to recover a draft pick if he signs elsewhere. He's expected to command a contract of up to four years in excess of $10 million per year -- a package that the Mets are unlikely to match.
"I truly, truly have enjoyed my time in this organization," said Murphy, 30, who bounced around the diamond before undergoing an often bumpy transition to second base.
In the World Series, Murphy showed why the Mets have been reticent to commit to a long-term deal. After his tear in the NLDS and NLCS, Murphy's bat cooled off. He hit .150 in the World Series and made a pair of costly errors, one of which led to the Game 4 loss.
The Mets long have held concerns about his defense at second base. His range is likely to decline even more with age, thus adding more pressure for him to perform with his bat.
Still, he has been a consistent performer offensively, and there is thought within the organization that he has fundamentally improved as a hitter. However, the Mets have in-house replacements.
The Mets remain high on prospect Dilson Herrera, and although Herrera might not be ready to begin next season in the big leagues, sources said the club could explore re-signing Kelly Johnson as a potential bridge at second base.
Johnson also brings the kind of versatility that Murphy provides, specifically an option to play third base to help spell David Wright.
Shortstops Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores also are expected back next season, and both could be shifted around the diamond as well to make up for Murphy's absence.
Said Murphy: "I feel blessed to have been a Met this long."