Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield is Not Untouchable

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Whit Merrifield
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Whit Merrifield /

In response to a previous article, many fans expressed dismay at the thought of the Kansas City Royals trading Whit Merrifield. Like it or not, it could happen. Here’s why he’s not untouchable.

Many fans are scared about the lengths to which the Kansas City Royals will go to rebuild the farm system during the impending rebuild. That’s obvious based on the response to an article earlier this week written by our own Alex Duvall.

He wrote about a possible trade with the Boston Red Sox. It would have sent Whit Merrifield, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Buchter to Boston. Coming to Kansas City would be Michael Chavis, Brock Holt and Austin Maddox.

It was a sensible trade, but Kansas City Royals fans weren’t having it. To be fair, our friends at BoSox Injection didn’t like the trade either. But it’s understandable they are excited about Chavis, plus loyal to Dustin Pedroia to a fault.

It doesn’t excuse the over-the-top response by Royals fans. There’s nothing wrong with thinking a particular trade isn’t fair — or at least not enough given a player’s value. Trades always have winners and losers. It’s another thing entirely to claim Merrifield shouldn’t be traded under any circumstances.

That’s just an illogical statement.

Scant few players on the Kansas City Royals approach an untouchable level. The list depends slightly on the degree of teardown the front office is planning to unleash. Regardless, it would seem to reason that Salvador Perez and Danny Duffy aren’t going anywhere. They aren’t likely to fetch anywhere near a comparable value, while also providing needed building blocks for the next era.

Outside of those two, you will struggle to find a player who wouldn’t be sold this winter for the right price. Players like Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy are almost certainly staying in Kansas City. But that has to do with their atrocious contracts. Performance-wise they would be trade targets for the front office.

Merrifield belongs in a category almost all his own. There are several reasons, which we’ll discuss below, he doesn’t make it into the untouchable category. But he is in an incredibly team-friendly contract with control through 2023, meaning it would take a lot for the team to part with him.

Why Merrifield Isn’t Untouchable

As mentioned before, few players ever reach untouchable status. It’s not an indictment on Merrifield’s ability. There are just a few factors working against him.

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First is his age. Merrifield’s baby face and one-and-a-half seasons in the majors make him seem younger than he is. The fact is this: Merrifield will be 29 when next season begins. He is older than Eric Hosmer.

It’s also possible that his 2017 performance will be the pinnacle of his career. Maybe, he will develop into an All-Star for the next couple of seasons. But more than likely, Merrifield will regress in 2018. After leading the league in steals last year, his speed will likely decline entering his thirties.

His value to other teams will never be higher than this offseason. Some might try to take advantage of that by low-balling Dayton Moore. He fell for that last year with Wade Davis leaving in exchange for Jorge Soler. The difference this time is a lack of urgency. Davis had arm issues the year before and would be entering the final year of his contract. Merrifield has neither an injury concern nor contract ticking down.

That doesn’t mean a trade won’t happen this winter. It also doesn’t mean Merrifield won’t get dealt at the trade deadline, particularly if he repeats his recent success over the first half of 2018. The risk in waiting would be the highly probable regression; the reward would be catching a desperate team looking for the final piece of a playoff push.

Next: Early Prediction for 2018 Rotation

Bottom line: Don’t be surprised if the Kansas City Royals cash in on Merrifield’s breakout 2017 season. So fans need to get used to the idea of him leave. His exit might not be imminent, but he’s far from untouchable.