2021 has not been the Kansas City Royals’ year, despite Whit Merrifield’s All-Star efforts.
The time may have finally come.
After being a popular trade candidate from Kansas City, Whit Merrifield may be on the move. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported that the Royals are “more open” to trading Merrifield before the July 30 trade deadline.
Keep in mind that “more open” is all relative. In 2018, Royals general manager Dayton Moore explicitly said that Merrifield would not be traded away.
This was possibly the highest point of Merrifield’s trade value, a 29-year-old super-utility player. He extended with Kansas City following that season on an extremely team-friendly 4-year, $16.25 fully-guaranteed deal with a club option in 2023. Since this extension, Merrifield has been a consistent batting and base-stealing threat, posting a .286 batting average since 2018 and being 2nd in stolen bases in 2020.
Merrifield’s offensive jack-of-all-trades approach carries to fielding, as he has played all outfield positions, as well as first and second base since 2018. He excels at second defensively, currently leading the American League in double plays turned, putouts, and assists from that position. His fielding percentage currently ranks 5th as well, at .983.
All that said, Merrifield’s years of success still led to another substandard year from the Royals organization. As of July 22, the Royals are at the bottom of the AL Central and 18 games back from the top. A winning record, much less a postseason appearance, is not happening despite the individual play.
Kansas City Royals: Should the Royals look to move Whit Merrifield?
While Dayton Moore has punted his expectations of winning in 2021 to 2022, the need for change cannot be denied. Fans feel that the Royals organization and fanbase are resting upon a World Series win that is nearly 10 years ago and sometimes viewed as a fluke. Restocking the farm system after top prospects, such as Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto, leave for Kansas City has to be a priority for team success.
With all that said, Merrifield’s career and the Royals’ window of winning do not line up.
Merrifield’s contract will be up and Kansas City may have nothing to show for it. To make the most of his play and give Merrifield the best chance of winning his own championship, a trade makes the most sense in 2021. Here are three possible landing locations, plus one more team that needs Merrifield but will not make fans happy.