The KC Royals decided not to re-sign Ben Zobrist after the 2015 season. Zobrist played a big role in the playoffs, but not re-signing him has been fine. Whit Merrifield has essentially become Ben Zobrist for the Royals.
Some Kansas City Royals fans wanted to see the organization retain Ben Zobrist after the team’s World Series title in 2015. The Royals obviously opted to keep Alex Gordon instead, the homegrown Royal, and paid him a mega contract in the process.
Zobrist was offered a similar contract to what Gordon received, only it was offered by the Chicago Cubs. It wasn’t surprising that Zobrist signed there, as he had previously played under Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay and was initially from Illinois.
While Zobrist received less money than Gordon, he still received a four-year deal worth $56 million. He signed that contract when he was 34 years old and the Royals simply couldn’t give a contract to someone through their age 38 season. Make all the jokes about Gordon that you want, but he is three years younger than Zobrist.
More from Kansas City Royals
- This Plus-Money Bobby Witt Jr. Prop Bet is on Fire (Hit in 15/21 Games)!
- The Royals Need to Extend Bobby Witt Jr. Immediately
- DraftKings + FanDuel Kansas Promos: INSTANT $150 Bonus Plus Two Chances to Win!
- 3 Royals Players Who Won’t Be on the Roster Next Year
- LAST CHANCE to Claim $250 GUARANTEED Bonus With FanDuel and DraftKings Kansas Promos!
The Royals may not have signed Zobrist, but they found themselves a very similar player in their farm system. That guy is Whit Merrifield,who is pretty much the same type of player as Ben Zobrist. Both can play multiple positions (second base and outfield being their main ones) and have pop at the plate.
Merrifield is even better when it comes to stealing bases, having swiped 34 bags last year and has already stolen 25 bases this year. In comparison, Zobrist has had ten total stolen bases during his three years in Chicago.
Zobrist did help the Cubs win a World Series in 2016, actually winning the MVP Award that year, but it’s doubtful he would have been enough to get the Royals back to that pinnacle in 2016. The Royals’ problems came from pitching that season.
Zobrist had a rough 2017 season, but he’s rebounded in 2018 and is currently batting over .300. Merrifield obviously has been one of KC’s top players since he was called up in 2016 and is a hell of a lot cheaper than what Zobrist would have been.
While it was sad to see Ben Zobrist sign elsewhere, the Royals found a younger and (debatable) better version of him. Merrifield is 29 years old, eight years younger than Zobrist, and provides basically the same qualities that the current Cub would have offered. He’s doing so at an incredibly lesser price too, which only sweetens the deal.
The Royals could still decide to trade Whit Merrifield in the next year or so, but it’s honestly looking like he could stick around and be what Ben Zobrist was to the 2015 Royals. A guy who can play any defensive position and has the clutch gene at the plate.