Murphy praises Rockies' 'dangerous' lineup

New first baseman brings postseason experience

December 22nd, 2018

DENVER -- took his family to a mall in Jacksonville, Fla., for a visit with Santa Claus. In Murphy's case, it was more of a thanks than a request.
"I sat in line for about an hour and a half for our family to get our pictures taken with Santa Claus," Murphy told Denver media in a conference call, after completing his two-year, $24 million contract to become the Rockies' first baseman. "I'm excited because we all had Rockies stuff on. We're all-in in the Murphy household right now. We're all flying the purple.
"Having played in the postseason for the last four seasons, one of the main things for my family and I was to identify a ballclub that we thought had a legitimate and a real shot at winning the World Series. The Rockies came up at the top of that list when we started identifying clubs."
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The deal breaks down to salaries of $10 million in 2019 and $8 million in 2020; guaranteed, also, is a $6 million buyout (on a $12 million 2021 option) -- $3 million of which is deferred without interest. The buyout increases to $7 million if he reaches any award bonus, and there is a $2 million fee if traded.
Murphy arrives in Denver as a career .299 hitter with 122 home runs and 641 RBIs in 10 seasons with the Mets (2008-09, 2011-15), Nationals (2016-18) and Cubs (2018). He also has batted .309 with eight home runs, three doubles and 19 RBIs in 25 postseason games -- all but seven of them with at least one hit.

In '18, after recovering from right knee surgery, he played 91 games (56 with the Nats, 35 with the Cubs) and batted .299 with a .336 on-base percentage and .454 slugging percentage. Murphy said he "underestimated" the recovery time and how far he was behind after not participating in Spring Training, but felt better toward the end of the season and believes he will "look a little more like I did in 2017 going forward."
The Rockies have made the postseason the last two seasons, but have had baffling struggles offensively, at times, and found no success in the National League Division Series against the Brewers.
"He's able to control the barrel, he's able to utilize the whole field," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said of Murphy. "I think his track record in the postseason speaks for itself, in terms of however you want to put it, either rising to the occasion or being a relaxed and confident player under stressful conditions.
"He's been able to perform really well in those situations, and we expect to continue to compete in the playoffs and go deeper than we have been the last couple of years."

Murphy, who turns 34 on April 1, is excited about a Rockies club that advanced to the NL Wild Card Game in 2017, and in 2018 won that game -- 2-1 in 13 innings over Murphy and the Cubs -- before bowing to the Brewers in a three-game sweep in the NLDS. Murphy noted that manager Bud Black's club had a rough travel week going into the Wild Card Game -- three games (including the Wild Card win) -- in three days in three time zones.
"It had a ton of resiliency -- it's a characteristic they get from Buddy and from Nolan [Arenado]," Murphy said. "Any time that you can run out a premier shortstop [], somebody like Charlie Blackmon. … I thought the pitching staff last year made massive leaps forward.
"Hopefully, I can step in, fall into place and try to extend a lineup that is really potent and really dangerous."
Murphy also is not fazed by moving from second base, where he has played 834 games in his career, to first base, where he has played 225 (198 of them starts).
"Full disclosure, I'm a little bit more comfortable at first base than I am at second," Murphy said. "I enjoyed it when I played there in New York. I'm excited to get to work."