The major league trade deadline is just a few hours hours more than a week away. By 3 p.m. Kansas City time (CDT) next Friday, all deals must be done, and KC Royals fans will know by then whether Whit Merrifield will still be theirs.
Contemplating a Merrifield trade has been an annual Kansas City ritual since at least 2018, the year after he established himself as a bona fide big league star by leading the majors in hits for the first of two straight seasons, leading both leagues in stolen bases, and slashing .304/.367/.438. That he’s arguably the most effectively versatile player in either league increases his value exponentially.
Although the Royals tend to keep trade overtures to themselves, there’s no doubt they’ve been approached about Merrifield. But under General Manager Dayton Moore and the two principal owners for whom he’s worked, the club hasn’t budged when it comes to Merrifield.
And now, a small bit of the glow may be off Merrifield. At .273 entering tonight’s game against Detroit, he probably won’t reach that .304 he hit in 2018, the next season’s .302, or perhaps even 2020’s .282.
But he’s played every game this season, his eight homers prove he still has pop, he’s driven in 51 runs, and he once again leads the majors in steals with 25, all of which taken together spawns speculation other clubs are, or should be, interested in Merrifield. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports via Twitter that the Mets and others are monitoring the Merrifield situation, and trade projections involving Merrifield are easy to find.
Only the top KC brass knows whether the club is willing to trade Merrifield or wants to keep him. But what might figure into a tough decision is easy to identify. Let’s take a look.