Groups have been making an attempt to pry second baseman/outfielder Whit Merrifield away from the Royals for a number of years, and The Athletic’s Jayson Stark now reports that the Royals are “extra open” to buying and selling the two-time All-Star than they’ve been previously.
“Extra open” is a relative time period and doesn’t essentially imply Merrifield is being outwardly shopped to different golf equipment. In any case, Kansas Metropolis normal supervisor Dayton Moore has all however labeled Merrifield as untouchable previously, so being “extra open” than that isn’t precisely a excessive bar to clear.
Again in 2018, as an illustration, Moore mentioned that Merrifield “actually received’t be traded on the deadline” and went on so as to add that the Royals “need him in our city and on our team.” Merrifield signed an extension that offseason, and the next summer time Moore referred to as him “probably the greatest gamers in all of baseball” and mentioned that “the ask would be just crazy” if different golf equipment got here calling on Merrifield.
Over the previous yr, Moore has publicly said that his membership is transferring again right into a win-now mindset, and the Royals’ offseason actions demonstrated that shift. Kansas Metropolis signed veterans Carlos Santana and Mike Minor to two-year contracts in free company, dipped into its farm system to accumulate two years of Andrew Benintendi and signed Salvador Perez to a four-year, $82MM extension. These aren’t the varieties of strikes rebuilding golf equipment make.
That mentioned, it’s additionally pure that because the Royals’ management over Merrifield continues to wane, they’d a minimum of enable themselves the chance to be overwhelmed by a suggestion. Merrifield is incomes $7.25MM in 2021 however is owed simply $3.75MM in 2022 as a part of a front-loaded contract extension. The Royals maintain a $6.5MM possibility on him for the 2023 season as effectively — although that possibility would enhance by $4MM as long as he spends fewer than 109 days on the injured record by the point the staff’s choice is due after the 2022 season.
Assuming Kansas Metropolis nonetheless goals to compete within the American League Central subsequent season, the entrance workplace certainly nonetheless views Merrifield as an essential piece of that puzzle. He’s hitting .273/.322/.405 with eight dwelling runs, 21 doubles, two triples and a league-leading 25 stolen bases for the time being. That offensive manufacturing is down from peak ranges, but it surely’s additionally on the upswing because the calendar flipped to June (and because the league cracked down on Spider Tack and different international substances for pitchers). Merrifield can also be nonetheless a robust defender at second base and versatile sufficient to rotate everywhere in the outfield as wanted.
One would think about that had been the Royals to truly entertain gives for Merrifield, the ask could be centered on controllable, near-MLB property. Buying and selling him for far-off prospects would solely weaken the 2022 roster — and his frontloaded contract construction wouldn’t give the staff any actual value financial savings that may very well be reallocated towards offsetting that loss.
All that mentioned, it’s simple to check a sturdy marketplace for a participant with Merrifield’s versatility and observe file. The Mariners and White Sox might each pursue infield assist. He’d give the Yankees a middle discipline possibility with a contact-oriented strategy the roster largely lacks. Merrifield might bounce between second base and the outfield for the Giants, Padres or Dodgers. His wage is inexpensive sufficient that even low-payroll contenders just like the A’s and Rays might bounce into the fray.
Due to that broad attraction, it’s solely pure for Moore and his entrance workplace to a minimum of hearken to gives on Merrifield. Usually talking, keen sellers have set very excessive asking costs on their most interesting commerce candidates thus far. Merrifield received’t be an exception.