The Toronto Blue Jays acquired two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield from the Kansas City Royals ahead of Tuesday's MLB trade deadline in exchange for Samad Taylor and Max Castillo.
Merrifield was notably one of 10 Royals players not to make the trip to Toronto in July due to his COVID-19 vaccination status. He did express an openness to receiving the vaccine should he be traded to a contending team, which will be necessary now that he'll have to play home games in Canada. Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins did not comment on Merrifield's vaccination status during his press conference on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old is having a down year by his standards, slashing .240/.290/.352 with six home runs. Even though he bats right-handed, he gives Toronto a different look in the lineup with more of a contact-oriented approach.
He also gives the Blue Jays an element of speed on the bases, as he has led the American League in swiped bags three times over his career. He has 15 steals in 18 attempts in 2022.
Defensively, Merrifield has experience at second base and all three outfield positions. His ability to play the outfield serves as insurance should George Springer be forced to the injured list with a nagging elbow issue.
Merrifield is more than just a rental addition, as he has at least one more year of control following this season. He's under contract for $2.75 million in 2023, which can increase by $4 million if he spends less than 110 days on the injured list. He then has an $18 million mutual option for 2024 with a $500,000 buyout.
Castillo has appeared in nine MLB games (two starts) this season after impressing in the minors. He owns a 3.05 ERA at the MLB level.
Taylor has not yet earned a call to the majors but has been knocking at the door at triple-A. The 24-year-old offers defensive versatility and possesses an intriguing power/speed combo with a .763 OPS and 23 stolen bases with the Buffalo Bisons in 2022.
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