Newly acquired Toronto Blue Jays infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield on Thursday told reporters he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, which means he’ll be eligible to play in the team’s home games down the stretch and, should they qualify, the postseason. The Canadian government does not allow travelers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to cross its borders except in rare, special circumstances.
The Blue Jays recently acquired Merrifield in a trade with the Kansas City Royals as part of a three-player deal just prior to the Aug. 2 deadline. Last month, Merrifield was among the 10 Royals players unable to travel to Toronto due to vaccination status, but he now says that status has changed. Merrifield at the time did express some openness toward being vaccinated if, for instance, his team was in the mix for a playoff spot:
“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. 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.”
Going into Thursday night’s road game against the Minnesota Twins, the Blue Jays are 58-46. Although they’re 11 games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East, the Jays do hold the top wild-card spot in the AL. They’re also in playoff position by three games. Their status as contenders, plus the fact that the Blue Jays play their home games in Canada, may have motivated Merrifield to be vaccinated.
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 Jays’ next home game is Friday, Aug. 12.
This season, Merrifield, 33, has batted .240/.290/.352 with six home runs and 15 stolen bases in 90 games for the Royals. He’s under contract through the 2023 season.