Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield traded to Toronto Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whit Merrifield mentioned final month that he is likely to be keen to get vaccinated towards COVID-19 if it meant enjoying for a staff in rivalry, although he had refused to get the shot whereas enjoying for the last-place Kansas City Royals.

He’ll have to make that call now.

In a singular and doubtlessly unprecedented scenario, the Royals traded Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays simply minutes earlier than the commerce deadline Tuesday. And if the two-time All-Star needs to play any video games in Canada down the stretch, Merrifield might be required to get one of many authorised vaccines to enter the nation.

“We’ll let him work via that along with his household,” Blue Jays common supervisor Ross Atkins mentioned, whereas declining further touch upon the matter. “We felt like we made an excellent staff higher right this moment.”

Merrifield was amongst 10 gamers on the Royals who had been unvaccinated final month, stopping them from making their journey to Toronto. When requested about his resolution, Merrifield drew the ire of Kansas City followers by saying: “Something occurs and I occur to get on a staff that has an opportunity to go play in Canada within the postseason, possibly that adjustments.”

Many took that to imply Merrifield was unwilling to get vaccinated for his present staff however would for another person.

“The extent of our dialog with Whit and his vaccination standing ended once we had been going to Toronto as a result of after that it did not have an effect on us,” Royals common supervisor JJ Picollo mentioned. “The conversations we had with Toronto, I’m going to hold personal. There’s no want for me to speak about a participant on one other staff.”

The Royals acquired within the deal speedy teenager Samad Taylor and right-hander Max Castillo, each of whom might assist their huge league staff as early as this season. The 24-year-old Taylor is hitting .258 with 9 homers and 23 stolen bases in 70 video games for Triple-A Buffalo whereas the 23-year-old Castillo has a 3.05 ERA in 9 appearances for Toronto.

The deal additionally creates extra alternatives for the Royals’ younger core to play collectively.

The 33-year-old Merrifield was hitting simply .240 with 30 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in 95 video games this season. But he has confirmed to be reliable — his 553-game Iron Man streak ended final month due to a toe harm — and he has led the league in hits twice, led the league in stolen bases thrice and had an AL-leading 42 doubles final season.

Merrifield is making $7 million this season and is due $2.75 million subsequent season together with a $4 million bonus for spending fewer than 110 days on the injured checklist in 2022. He has an $18 million mutual possibility for 2024 with a $500,000 buyout.

“I like Whit. I like him as a participant. I like him as an individual,” Royals supervisor Mike Matheny mentioned earlier than their sport towards the White Sox in Chicago. “But I additionally understand that it is not a shock. This dialog began a very long time in the past.”

Toronto, which has a four-game lead over Tampa Bay for the AL’s high wild card, was lacking outfielder George Springer within the lineup for the third time prior to now 4 video games in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Rays, due to a proper elbow harm

Blue Jays interim supervisor John Schneider mentioned Springer might be re-evaluated Wednesday.

“He’s going to do some stuff on the sector right this moment after which type of revisit it,” Schneider mentioned, “however it’s not something concrete proper now. You positively need to put him in a spot to be good, have success and assist us, so we’re hopeful that all the things goes good. We hope it is not something loopy the place it is going to hinder him and his efficiency and us.”

It was a busy day for the Blue Jays, who received relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop together with a participant to be named later from Miami for shortstop prospect Jordan Groshans; right-hander Mitch White and infielder Alex DeJesus from the Dodgers for right-hander Nick Frasso and left-hander Moises Brito; despatched right-hander Jeremy Beasley to Pittsburgh for money; recalled left-hander Matt Gage from Buffalo; and designated left-hander Anthony Banda for task.

Bass is 2-3 with a 1.41 ERA in 45 video games for Miami whereas Pop is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA over 18 outings.

“Two guys that throw exhausting,” Schneider mentioned. “Anything to type of praise what we’ve is superior.”

The Royals had been much less busy than many anticipated forward of the deadline, though they did swing a late commerce with the Padres by sending backup catcher Cam Gallagher to San Diego for minor league outfielder Brent Rooker.

Gallagher performed in simply 18 video games for Kansas City this season, ceding the job behind Salvador Perez to rising prospect MJ Melendez. The 27-year-old Rooker was hitting .272 with 19 homers in 61 video games for Triple-A El Paso this season.

“I used to be shocked. It’s a enterprise. I like the Royals. I’ll bear in mind all of the recollections, and I’ll be rooting for them,” mentioned Gallagher, who spent components of six seasons in Kansas City. “But on the finish of the day, it is a new alternative for me.”

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