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Daniel Murphy to the Rockies - Fantasy Implications

Rockies fans watched a 2018 team that disappointed on offense and the front office might have just made the key addition to fix some of those headaches. Second baseman Daniel Murphy will be joining the Rockies on a two-year deal and should offer an exciting upside bat, with a glove that might not play all that well in the field anymore. This is the good news, whereas the bad news means that some of the young potential stars for the Colorado franchise might have to wait a bit longer, or could be on their way out of town. For fantasy owners, this might be one of the more impactful moves so far this winter and offers an exciting option for players in all formats.

Whatever the case for the Rockies, the need was clear, and this all but signals that DJ LeMahieu will be leaving town to sign elsewhere. With a weak second base pool in general, Murphy adds some value with this move based on the park factors alone. Not surprisingly, Coors Fields sat second, according to ESPN, with 1.271 run factor, and a 1.280 home run factor. Both of these numbers help whoever plays there, and with an elite bat like Murphy, should offer a nice boon for fantasy owners. While every player gets that jump for fantasy rankings, when Murphy grades out as one of the best contact hitters in the game, the gains are even more pronounced.

While questions still exist around the Rockies roster, the obvious impacts are to help an ailing offense. While Murphy was already a top 10 pick at the position, interested owners perhaps need to look at him as a top-six second-baseman with this news.

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Stock Watch

Daniel Murphy (1B/2B, COL)

Stock Up

Readers can see from the intro that this is a move that fantasy owners should be high on, but what and where should they expect to see the jump? First, last year was a bit of a weird one for the slugger with only 91 games played, and a mid-season trade affecting some of the soft factors. The injury time off was expected, with knee surgery happening in the offseason, but his recovery and ultimate strong play should be of interest to owners. Still, Murphy is not young, and any knee injury should be a bit scary for a player, so if he is drafted make sure to add a young back-up later in the draft as cover. The good news is that this was surgery as opposed to general time off for a knee injury, so the issue should be fixed moving into this year.

On the offensive side, Murphy is one of the best pure hitters in the game, and even in limited time in 2018, slashed .299/.336/.454 with 12 homers and 42 RBI. The power was admittedly behind the 23-HR pace from 2017, but the trade to the Cubs took some playing time, and the previously discussed injury limited the return without a Spring Training. His K-rate was up from the career norm at 11.4%, but still down from 2017’s 13% mark.

Similar numbers concerning walk rate and steals show that there is not much else that changed in the profile. All of this is good for owners, as with the move to Colorado, those doubles should creep back to the 43 mark from 2017, and triples will be on the table again. If he can stay healthy for a full season, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Murphy can match his 2016 slash of .347/.390/.595 with 25 homers and 104 RBI. At the very least, after a full offseason of recovery, with a strong line-up context, Murphy is not a candidate for a big step back at this point. While it might be easy analysis to say that moving to Coors is good, the fact that he now hits behind Charlie Blackmon, and in front of Nolan Arenado and David Dahl looks to be an excellent fit.

The other key question will be where does Murphy play? This article has talked about him playing the keystone, and that is the most likely spot, but Roster Resource has him playing at first. This would mean that Ryan McMahon is not making the team, and the Rockies do not have an upgrade in the outfield for Ian Desmond. If Murphy can play a decent second, then there should not be any worries about him holding down that position.

The other consideration is that with the shift, a slower second baseman is not as exposed versus a pull-happy hitter, and this will play well for Murphy's fielding and his ability to stick at second base. According to Baseball Savant, the Rockies shifted the 13th most in the majors last year and were a top-eight team when it came to shifting versus lefties. This means that second base is a real possibility and even if he plays more at first, the second base eligibility keeps him as a great draft asset. Or at the very least, he does not seem to lose eligibility for drafts in the future, keeping him as a legitimate draft target in dynasty drafts as well.


Garrett Hampson (2B/SS, COL)

Stock Down

The caveat on this stock watch is the assumption that Hampson is no longer the starting second baseman on opening day due to Murphy, so if the latter moves to first, then Hampson might see a stock jump here. Playing on a team with Murphy adds overall offensive value, so Hampson adds that due to context. Not a huge jump, but again, Murphy seems to make everyone on this team a bit better.

The apparent piece limiting Hampson is that less playing time makes him more of a bench utility player at best. Hampson had a breakout 2018 campaign, as not many viewed him as a great hitter coming into the year, but a .275/.396/.400 slash showed real value over 24 games last year. Maybe “breakout” is too strong a label, but Hampson impressed during his stop with the team and shed the utility label at the least. Hampson still seems to be the longterm future, and perhaps might take over if Trevor Story moves around the diamond. It would be shocking to see him not make the roster, but with Colorado, owners need to be paying attention.

Back to what owners can expect from the utility player, Hampson's minor league numbers in 2018 were great with a plus .300 average at both stops up the ladder, and complemented by a total of 37 steals. While he did not steal much with the Rockies, the speed is there for a player with tremendous steals upside. And yet, with the park, and the type of players hitting around him, do not expect Hampson to steal all that much, as a Nolan Arenado homer brings him home anyway. Hampson is a player worth looking at very late in drafts if he's not projected as a full-time player. If he is projected to start, he moves closer to the 13-18 round range, and he could see his value steadily rise during the Winter.


Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS, COL)

Stock Down?

In some early drafts and mocks, Rodgers seems to be one of the sexy rookies to pick way too early. In dynasty drafts, this is still a good target, even as his stock has dropped a bit over the past 12 months. With Murphy's addition, there is not a clear path to him joining the Rockies in 2019, even with Murphy possibly playing at first.

With Ian Desmond already on the roster, even a strong Spring makes Rodgers the victim of the numbers game, but perhaps a late-season call-up is the best bet. To be fair to the Rockies, 2018 was not a great campaign for the Rodgers, with only a .232 batting average in 19 games at Triple-A. While this is a small sample size, the K-rate shot up to 22.2% and the walk rate dropped to 1.4%. Without knowing much more, it seems that Rodgers could use another year at least before joining the team, and at that point, might be a third baseman to fill for other free agents leaving.

With the Murphy signing, Rodgers should no longer be drafted in mixed leagues and is at best a long-shot stash for NL-only teams. The other thing to watch is the possible trade of Rodgers to add an outfielder or pitcher to a team that might think it can overtake the Dodgers this year. While this is not the likely outcome, it would not be the first time this offseason that the idea was dangled.

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