KC Royals pull last-minute MLB Trade Deadline stunner

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
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Remember the stunner the KC Royals announced just before the All-Star Break, when they revealed 10 unvaccinated players couldn’t make the club’s trip to Toronto because Canada denies entry to the unvaccinated?

Remember that one of those players was Whit Merrifield?

Well, Kansas City stunned baseball a bit again just before the MLB Trade Deadline expired late Tuesday afternoon, not because of who they traded, but who they traded him to.

They dealt Merrifield to Toronto.

How Royals fans react remains to be seen, but it won’t take long to find out. After all, and as reported at the time by SI.com’s Stephanie Apstein, Merrifield suggested shortly after the Royals announced losing 10 players for the Toronto trip that he’d consider vaccinating if he ended up playing for a contender:

"“The only reason that I would think about getting [the vaccine] at this point is to go to Canada. That might change down the road. Something happens and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes. But as we sit here right now, I’m comfortable with my decision.”"

Royals fans are bound to have a long memory on this one. Now, there isn’t a chance he’ll play in Toronto—it’s a certainty. Merrifield must have guaranteed the Blue Jays that he’ll vaccinate, or already has. There is presumably no other way Toronto would have done the deal … unless, of course, the Canadian government grants him an exception, and that isn’t likely.

So, expect mixed fan reaction, especially because Merrifield ends his KC tenure with a .286 average, led the majors in hits twice and stolen baes once, and played anywhere managers Ned Yost and Mike Matheny needed him.

The KC Royals got 2 players for Whit Merrifield and traded Cam Gallagher.

In return for Merrifield, Kansas City get minor leaguers Samad Taylor, who MLB Pipeline ranked as Toronto’s 16th best prospect before the trade, and Max Castillo. Taylor has played three infield positions and every one in the outfield and was hitting .258 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs in 70 games for Triple-A Buffalo. Castillo, a righthander who starts but sometimes relieves, was a combined 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A.

Another late afternoon trade (Twitter link) sent veteran backup catcher Cam Gallagher to San Diego for outfielder Brent Rooker. In 67 big league games split between Minnesota and the Padres, he has a .205 average and hit nine homers in 58 games for the Twins last year. Gallagher, a valuable backup to Salvador Perez, hit .240 in parts of six Kansas City seasons.

What else did KC do this trade period?