Option 2 is a harder pill to swallow. Perhaps signing a utility infielder that has played more second base than any other position means a second baseman is on the move. Whit Merrifield has had a lot of buzz around his name this off-season. Teams looking to compete, but lack a solid second baseman, could really benefit from Merrifield.
Merrifield’s career .286/.324/.460 slash, while being consistent his first two years, is appealing to teams. Merrifield bulking up over last years off-season is also an encouraging sign. His home run numbers jump dramatically, going from two in 2016 and 19 in 2017. His extra-base hits overall dramatically jumped from year one to year two. In year one he had 27 extra-base hits, while in year two he had 57 extra-base hits. To add a cherry to the top, Merrifield led the American League in 2017 in stolen bases last year with 34 stolen bases.
Most appealing though is his contract. He is under team-control through 2019, beginning arbitration in 2020, and becoming a free agent in 2023. For what he has shown he can do over the last two years, having that type of team control is huge for a team that is competing.
And while that is great for a team that is competing, the flip side is great for the Royals. Merrifield could bring in a decent haul if traded. Teams want to solidify the middle of the field and having a very good second baseman is important.
If the Royals are truthful to the idea of a team rebuild, Merrifield could help the team more by being traded than playing second base for the Royals.