According to multiple reports, the first coming from Sportsnet up in Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Whit Merrifield, as well as the club themselves, have declined the middle infielder's $18 million option for 2024.
While this is both good news for Red Sox fans in the sense that he won't be a member of the Blue Jays next year, it also is good news because it frees up someone that Boston could potential use in their lineup and could make an immediate impact.
Merrifield has played most of his career with the Kansas City Royals from 2016-2022 before being dealt to Toronto at the end of the 2022 season. With the Blue Jays, he has played second base primarily, but has also touched the outfield as well.
Why would Whit Merrifield be a a good fit in Boston?
As a team that is looking to bolster their middle infield this offseason, Merrifield would be a good fit at second base. He would give the Red Sox an excellent fielding duo up the middle with him and Trevor Story.
While Merrifield has not won a Gold Glove just yet, he has been awarded a Fielding Bible Award, but maybe playing with Story would push him to another level defensively. That could be a positive for Red Sox pitchers, who had the fourth-worst batting average on balls in play in baseball in 2023 while forcing ground balls at the eighth-highest rate.
In addition to his defense, Merrifield also has an uncanny ability to get on base from the top spot of the lineup, a position Boston has not had locked down to one player since maybe even as far back as the Jacoby Ellsbury or Dustin Pedroia years.
Yes, Alex Verdugo was solid last year and Kiké Hernandez was before him, but they were not by solid by any stretch of the word. What Merrifield can bring as well, that the latter two could not as well is, much like Ellsbury, he is not afraid to steal bases.
In fact, when hitting out of the leadoff spot throughout his career. Merrifield has stolen 157 bases and has walked 191 times.
How much could Whit Merrifield sign for?
While newly appointed head of baseball operations, Craig Breslow, has not laid out a specific spending plan for the offseason, given recent history, it doesn't look like the Red Sox will spend a ton of money.
However, that's good news for fans, as he most likely will not cost the team a ton of money if he were to come to Boston. Before declining his $18 million club option, according to Spotrac, Merrifield was making just $7 million, and $6.75 million in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
There is a slim to none chance that 34-year-old second baseman is going to get $18 million money on the open market. Chances are, Merrifield is looking for a change of scenery and that was the reason behind his declining of the option.
MLB Trade Rumors notes, "a two-year pact at a lesser value could be attainable.landed a $17MM guarantee over two years last winter when he was coming off a .277/.336/.387 platform showing."
Adding Merrifield could make Boston a very solid team, and one to actually be taken seriously moving forward if he were to sign. Will they do it? The ball's in your court, Craig Breslow!