After years of rejecting overtures, the Kansas City Royals have finally traded Whit Merrifield. Merrifield is heading to the Toronto Blue Jays for infielder Samad Taylor and righty Max Castillo, report the New York Post and MLB.com.
Merrifield was among the 10 Royals players unable to travel to Toronto last month due to vaccination status. He did say he would consider getting vaccinated for a postseason-bound team, however, and the Blue Jays are very much in the race. They enter Tuesday in the in the top American League wild-card spot, four games up on a postseason berth.
“It’s been a long thought process, because I understand what Canada has in place right now. That’s the only reason I would think about getting it at this point, is to go to Canada. That might change down the road,” Merrifield said last month. “If 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, my teammates support me, support the rest of the guys in here who have made that decision, and that’s that.”
It’s important to note Canada’s laws require international travelers to wait 14 days after the single-dose vaccine or the second shot of the two-dose vaccine before entering the country. The Blue Jays begin a nine-game road trip Tuesday. Their next home game is Friday, Aug. 12. If he has not yet gotten vaccinated, the earliest Merrifield could play in Toronto is Tuesday, Aug. 16, if he gets the single-shot vaccine. He’ll miss at least four home games in that case.
The 33-year-old Merrifield is having the worst season of his career, slashing .240/.290/.352 with six home runs and 15 stolen bases. He is under contract through next season. Merrifield has played many different positions in his career but is essentially a second baseman and right fielder at this point. The Royals have cut back on his center field time in recent years.
MLB.com ranks Taylor, 24, the No. 16 prospect in Toronto’s system. He owns a .258/.337/.426 line with nine homers and 23 steals in 70 Triple-A games this season. The 23-year-old Castillo has a 3.05 ERA in 20 2/3 innings as an up-and-down depth arm this year.