DENVER -- Now that free agent Daniel Murphy's two-year, $24 million contract to primarily play first base for the Rockies has gone official, he will impact several players in and (presumably) out of Purple Pinstripes.
Many of these impacts center on opportunity. But there are also specific, measurable ways that Murphy -- a self-professed geek about hitting -- can make a difference. Even in a short time with the Cubs after a trade from the Nationals in 2018, Murphy had an influence.
Let's look at how Murphy's arrival touches several players:
Star third baseman Nolan Arenado
Murphy's contract is short enough that it should not affect the Rockies' negotiations with Arenado, who is in his final arbitration year but is a candidate for a multi-year deal that would keep him away from free agency. Early in the offseason, signing versatile Marwin Gonzalez seemed like a good idea. But MLB Trade Rumors projects a four-year, $36 million contract, which is likely higher than the Rockies would prefer to go for him.
• Bridich: Rox can pay Nolan, "grow responsibly"
Free agent DJ LeMahieu
The Rockies have spoken glowingly about LeMahieu's contributions on and off the field. But in developing multiple middle infielders, they've been preparing for his departure. Had the Rockies been more set at first base than in the middle infield, re-signing LeMahieu for a deal of more than two years would have been more viable. More >>
The left-handed-hitting McMahon, who possesses power potential, is first in line to succeed LeMahieu at second base after an uneven rookie campaign in 2018. The athletic McMahon has a chance to have as much defensive impact as LeMahieu. At the plate, McMahon has an 88.9 mph average exit velocity. Could Murphy's influence help him reach an earlier contact point, which could translate into consistent power? More >>
Gif: McMahon shows the proper out-front contact point
He moves from first base to center field, where he played for the Rangers in 2016 after years at shortstop for the Nationals. Desmond's average exit velocity (89.9 mph) is greater than Murphy's (87.6 mph), which is an asset, but he led the Majors last season in groundball rate (64.9 percent). Desmond, Murphy and new hitting coach Dave Magadan all live in Florida. Could there be collaboration? More >>
Hampson impressed last season with his solid hitting approach at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, and showed enough to earn a postseason roster spot. Second is his primary position, and his athletic ability allows him to play center field. How he performs overall could make him a viable option if someone else slips up.
Not re-signing LeMahieu means one less obstacle for Rodgers, a middle infielder who is the Rockies' top prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
When he signed his six-year deal last year, Blackmon knew a move from center would make sense. With David Dahl having shown well in right field last season, left makes sense for Blackmon. He'll still have to show range, since Coors Field has one of the most expansive left fields in the sport. More >>
Tapia struggled when given a shot at center field last spring, but 2019 is a new chance. If he blossoms as a left-handed hitter, he can push for starts in center. Additionally, Tapia's early toe tap resembles Murphy's, but Murphy is more polished. More >>
Gif: Dahl and Murphy show the toe-tap
With Dahl's emergence late last season and the availability of Desmond and Tapia in center, he isn't part of the answer to the plan to move Blackmon out of center. Gonzalez, then, is left to a difficult free-agent market.
His 13.8-degree launch angle is not far off Murphy's 16.3 degrees, and his average exit velocity (88.7 mph) is a tick above Murphy's. Already, Dahl has absorbed hitting tips from Blackmon, while also listening to Arenado's pointers to develop his power. Will Murphy be able to offer additional batting advice?
Rockies prospects Josh Fuentes, Brian Mundell and Tyler Nevin
Murphy's presence allows development time for Fuentes (No. 17 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline), who is on the Major League 40-man roster after earning Triple-A Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player honors at Albuquerque; Mundell (No. 25), at Double-A Hartford in 2018; and Nevin (No. 11), who had a solid Arizona Fall League after a good year at Class A Advanced Lancaster.