The Nationals introduced their biggest offseason acquisition so far on Thursday, as second baseman Daniel Murphy made official his jump from the NL East rival Mets to Washington, where he is signed to play the next three years.
As is custom for introductory press conferences, Murphy donned a Nationals hat as well as his new uniform. The jersey number? Well, this is awkward.
Murphy will wear No. 20, the digits most recently worn by Ian Desmond, one of the most accomplished and popular players in team history. Desmond is expected to sign elsewhere in free agency, though as of Murphy's press conference, he was still without a contract.
For Murphy, the foundation for his deal was laid at the 2015 Winter Meetings. Murphy had seen the moves the Mets had made this offseason and thought staying in the division and on the East Coast would make for an easy transition for him and his family.
"Negotiations were swift. This was the place where I wanted to be," he said. "Both sides felt this was a good fit and the right fit for both of us."
Murphy spoke to Nationals player Matt den Dekker, whom he played with in New York, to get information about the clubhouse in Washington. And after he signed he reached out to Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Taylor, Gio Gonzalez and others. Zimmerman, in particular, has been helpful in getting Murphy settled in the city.
Murphy said he hopes to work on his consistency on defense at second base. GM Mike Rizzo also addressed the topic, which has become a common criticism of the veteran.
"I've seen him make some unbelievable plays at second base," Rizzo said, noting he knows Murphy very well having watched him for years play against the Nationals.
As for the number, Murphy said it was between No. 20 and No. 29 before he made the decision. He chose No. 20 and was pleased to hear the previous success of those who have worn it before, including Ian Desmond and former manager Frank Robinson.