One potentially beneficial decision the Kansas City Royals could make this offseason would be to trade Whit Merrifield to Boston for top prospect Michael Chavis. Here’s why both teams should agree.
In a rather surprising move, the Kansas City Royals gave top prospect Raul Mondesi the Opening Day job at second base to start the 2017 campaign. Whit Merrifield was forced to retreat back to Omaha, while Mondesi appeared to be lost at the plate against big league pitching.
In a less surprising move, Mondesi was shipped back to Omaha, where he belonged, and Merrifield was brought up to man second base in mid-April. Merrifield would take that opportunity, run with it and never look back. He ended the season in the discussion for team MVP, having slashed .288/.324/.460/.784 with 19 home runs and a league-leading 34 stolen bases in 145 games.
Merrifield is one of the reasons the Kansas City Royals had even the slightest prayer at making the playoffs in 2017. He finished the season as one of the best second basemen in the American League. His 2017 season gave Royals fans something to cheer about but ultimately wasn’t enough to help carry KC to the playoffs. The Kansas City Royals probably won’t be competing for a playoff spot in 2018.
But that doesn’t mean that Merrifield won’t be.
Before you freak out about me “giving up on Whit,” accuse me of being a “fair-weather fan” or whatever, let’s remove baseball from this scenario. Let’s imagine Merrifield is a stock you can buy on Wall Street.
The Kansas City Royals currently own stock in Merrifield. If I told you that his stock would never get any higher — and you can’t use any of the money he’d net you in the next three years — would you be willing to keep that stock?
What if I told you that you could trade Merrifield’s stock to get stock in a guy who could potentially be worth twice as much as Merrifield? You would be foolish not to trade in on that opportunity. That is where I think the Kansas City Royals will find themselves this offseason.
The Boston Red Sox failed to reach the American League Championship Series again in 2017 after trading for Chris Sale this offseason. They responded by firing manager John Farrell. There is going to be a ton of pressure on the Red Sox to get back to the World Series in 2018. They don’t have time to wait for prospects to grow and develop to help them get there.
Let me introduce you to Chavis:
- Turned 22 in August
- Red Sox’s No. 2 Prospect, MLB’s No. 96 at midseason
- Hit 31 HR this season across High-A and Double-A
- Slashed a combined .282/.347/.563/.910 in 2017
- Plays 3B; bats and throws right-handed
This kid is a monster. He’s like Hunter Dozier, but he’s 22 with more power. He would instantly become the Royals’ top prospect and probably start the year with Triple-A Omaha. Remember how home run crazy Jorge Soler went in Omaha this season? Imagine what Chavis would do in that stadium. He’d probably find a way to wind up in Kansas City before the season ended.
You may have read that and wondered, “So why on earth would Boston want to trade him?” Thanks for asking.
Let me tell you why:
- Boston is going to be under immense pressure to win in 2018. And Chavis doesn’t exactly give them the best chance to do that.
- Boston’s former top prospect, rookie sensation Rafael Devers, also plays third base and doesn’t appear likely to move from there any time soon.
- The Red Sox are financially invested in Hanley Ramirez as their designated hitter through 2019.
- The Red Sox will also more than likely sign a first baseman (there have been rumors about them signing Eric Hosmer lately) to begin the year, and Chavis would be blocked for at least the next couple of years from getting any big league action.
- Dustin Pedroia has now missed time in two of the last three seasons due to injury, is on the decline of his career and looks set to miss the next seven months due to knee surgery.
- The Red Sox used to rely on super-utility man, and former All-Star, Brock Holt to roam around the field and give players a day off. But Holt has missed a significant amount of time with injuries in each of the last two seasons.
This all adds up to the perfect storm for Kansas City.
Here is what I would propose to the Boston Red Sox if I was Dayton Moore:
Why the Kansas City Royals would say yes:
- They would be getting a top-100 prospect in return. As I mentioned before, Chavis would immediately become the Royals’ top prospect. The Royals are desperate for guys like him.
- Merrifield’s value as a baseball player isn’t going to get any higher. Whit is 28 himself. He will more than likely be on the downward side of his career by the time the Royals are ready to compete for the playoffs again. Selling high on your assets is always a smart move.
- Brock Holt can help fill in as the second baseman until rising prospect Nicky Lopez is ready to take over. Then Holt could take over as the Royals’ utility man, as he’s capable of playing five to six different positions adequately. Holt is under contract through 2019, and we know Ned Yost loves him some Holt.
- Austin Maddox is a 26-year-old pitcher who has performed well in the minor leagues over the last three seasons. He also had some success in 13 relief appearances for Boston in 2017. He adds a really nice right-handed option for Yost out of the bullpen.
Why the Boston Red Sox would say yes:
- They won’t have Pedroia to begin the 2018 season and Eduardo Nunez is set to hit free agency. The Red Sox need a second baseman and someone who can be their super-utility guy when Pedroia is in the lineup. With the decline of Holt, Merrifield is the perfect answer for Boston.
- The Red Sox bullpen was a bit of an issue in 2018. And Herrera has a great reputation as a set-up man. Adding Herrera to the bullpen would give them a three-headed monster of Herrera, Craig Kimbrel and rejuvenated Joe Kelly in the back of the bullpen.
- The Red Sox need a left-handed reliever, and Ryan Buchter was more than adequate in 2017. Buchter is under contract through 2021 and could help the Red Sox win right away in 2018.
- The Red Sox have to win in 2018. They gave up a king’s ransom for Sale and just fired their manager. Chavis won’t help them win games in 2018 and may be blocked for the foreseeable future, as well. A return of Merrifield, Herrera and Buchter puts Boston in contention for an AL pennant in 2018.
You never want to see your favorite players depart from your favorite team, and Whit Merrifield has become one of KC’s favorite players. But while the Kansas City Royals are going through a rebuild, they have to consider every option available to them to improve a weak farm system.
Trading Merrifield this offseason makes the most baseball sense for the Kansas City Royals. Even if it may not be the most popular move among the fanbase.