While we sit here and wonder when exactly this deal will be finalized* the big question that sits out there is why would the Nats go with Daniel Murphy.
The obvious first answer is that the Nats need another MI. That's simply the truth. They could go with Danny Espinosa and he might be fine. Certainly his defense will be solid if not better. But man, weren't you around for the second half of the year? The .206 / .259 / .346 second half? Danny is a great defender and a source of some pop. But he also can't hit and strikes out too much and was terrible in 2014 and made grown men cry in 2013. Add it up and he's a great bench player but a bad gamble as a starter.
Daniel Murphy is a good gamble as a starter. Consistently providing a level of offense that offsets his mediocre? poor? not terrible? defense. He will hit .280-.290. He will hit for just enough power. He will make contact. Defensive issues can be hidden, worked around, camoflauged, or you can get lucky and just have a year where the balls aren't hit in the areas that matter. Offensive issues rarely disappear like that. That's why Danny is a bench player and Murphy is a starter.
But still Yunel Escobar hit .314 with almost "just enough power". Why not just stick with Yunel Escobar? Well Yunel Escobar in a matter of just two years, has seemingly proved himself worse in the field than Murphy. Whereas Murphy is ill-suited for 2B but occasionally passable in other less demanding positions, like third base, Escobar just spent a year proving he wasn't even suited for third. At the plate 2015 Yunel was essentially a match for Murphy, but he is also historically not this good of a hitter. The assumption has to be that average will drop and if things revert back to "normal" as opposed to a middle ground... well Yunel would be an negative everywhere. Should we worry about such a drop? For 33 year old Yunel who has collapsed on the field, I'd say yes, yes we should. Murphy, 31 in April, doesn't have the same age issue.
Espinosa is a gamble. Murphy is security. Escobar can't be relied on. Murphy is stability.
So... great? Well there is another side. Like I said Murphy is ill-suited at 2B. You'd want to play him somewhere else. LF, 1B, 3B. What would be best for the Nats is Rendon at 2B and Murphy at 3B but I think the reverse will happen. While Murphy gives the Nats the LHB and contact stats they need, he doesn't give them the patience or power that they need too. He doesn't walk and his power is merely ok. When playing second he's an imperfect solution. Also we must consider that the Nats paying a premium for a post-season that was almost certainly a fluke. If the Nats are a strict budget team (we'll find out this year) then that could hamper improvements in the upcoming seasons.
My feeling is that Murphy, for 2016, is a solid addition to the team but should not be a singular one. He is not the impact bat I think is needed with the injury risk this offense continues to be. It's doubtful the Nats will now pay in money or prospects to add an all-in-one impact bat (if one is even still available) so perhaps they will find a way to get a complementary bat who provides a little patience and pop without breaking the bank (Dexter Fowler?) or someone that will provide one of those things in spades (trade for Khris Davis?). At three years, the contract doesn't bother me at all. I like it as he's likely to give value all three years. If you are building a "Bryce Time" team that contract means he slates in perfectly.
If this ends the Nats dealings for the off-season then it's bad, but there is no reason to think it will. This is one brick. Let's see what Rizzo builds.
*My guess continues to be once Papelbon or Storen are dumped to some team that will eat that salary. I found the Escobar trade then Kelley deal goes through timing suspicious and assume all Nats trades need some sort monetary balance. So I will only believe that this won't be the case when it is actually not the case