Murphy, Cespedes unlikely to return to Mets
Postseason stars top list of several potential free agents; club likely to have different look next season
NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy plans to drive to Citi Field on Monday and clean out his locker. He will head home to Florida from there, to a winter of decompression. He may never be back.
Murphy, whose October homer binge led the Mets to their first World Series in 15 years, and whose Game 4 error will live forever on video reels, headlines a lengthy list of Mets free agents. He and more than a half-dozen others, including outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, will officially become free to sign with any team five days after the World Series. The Mets fell to the Royals in Game 5, 7-2, on Sunday night.
"I've enjoyed my time here," Murphy said. "I really have enjoyed my time here. This organization's been great to me. I love the guys. I can't sing their praises enough. I thought the fans were awesome this Series. I thought they brought energy. And I most certainly have enjoyed it. I've been in this organization since 2006. It makes me feel old to say it. That's a long time. But I truly, truly enjoyed my time in this organization. I feel blessed to have been a Met this long."
Because he is likely to command a multiyear contract worth eight figures annually, and because the Mets possess a big league-ready second-base prospect in Dilson Herrera, Murphy is a long shot to return to the only organization he has ever known. The Mets plan to extend him a $15.8 million qualifying offer, which will ensure them Draft-pick compensation if he leaves. But they are otherwise unlikely to pursue him.
"I like it here," Murphy said. "I'd like to come back. But we'll have to see."
Also unlikely to return is Cespedes, whose own late-season homer binge lifted the Mets to their first National League East title since 2006. Though Cespedes reworked language in his contract this summer to give the Mets a chance to re-sign him, his 30-year-old body and .319 career on-base percentage do not jibe with the front office's style; more likely, the Mets will pursue a younger player to work with Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer in next year's outfield.
"It's been an incredible experience for me," Cespedes said through an interpreter, adding that he does not plan on seriously pursuing a new contract until December. "I thank God for the opportunity to come to this team and get to where we are."
In a way, the Mets are about to watch most off their midsummer roster transformation wash away. Every player that general manager Sandy Alderson acquired in July -- Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Tyler Clippard and Cespedes -- is due to become a free agent. Only Addison Reed, an August acquisition who is due for arbitration, stands a significant chance to stay.
Tack on the likely losses of in-house free agents Murphy, Bartolo Colon and Bobby Parnell, and the Mets will be a different team come April.
"Unfortunately, I've seen plenty of turnover in my 12 years here," third baseman David Wright said, staring over at Murphy's locker when asked about players who may be gone. "Obviously, there are guys that you become great friends with off the field. There are guys that it's like family in here. And unfortunately, the ugly business side rears its head, and there is that kind of turnover. But I'm not even going to begin to think about that. There's just so many things running through my head, I guess there's just not enough room for that right now."