KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Whit Merrifield last month said he might be open to a COVID-19 vaccine if it means playing for a contested team, although he declined the shot while playing for position finally Royal Kansas City.
He will have to make that decision now.
In a unique and potentially unprecedented situation, the Royals traded Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays just minutes before Tuesday’s trade deadline. And if the two-time All-Star wants to play any games in Canada over the long term, Merrifield will be required to have one of the approved vaccines for entry into the country.
“We’ll let him work it out with the family,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said, declining to comment further on the matter. “We feel like we made a very good team even better today.”
Merrifield was among 10 Royals players who were not vaccinated last month, preventing them from making the trip to Toronto. When asked about his decision, Merrifield drew the ire of Kansas City fans by saying, “Something happened and I happened to be on a team that had the opportunity to come play in Canada after the season. solution, maybe that will change.”
Many people believe that Merrifield does not want to vaccinate his current team but will vaccinate others.
“The extent of our conversation with Whit and his vaccinations was over when we got to Toronto because then it didn’t affect us,” said Royals general manager JJ Picollo. “Our conversations with Toronto will be kept private. I don’t need to talk about a player from another team.”
The Royals have received in the deal speed youngster Samad Taylor and right-hand man Max Castillo, both of whom could help their big team early this season. 24-year-old Taylor hit the .258 mark with nine home players and 23 bases stolen in 70 games for Triple-A Buffalo while 23-year-old Castillo has a 3.05 ERA in nine appearances for Toronto.
The agreement also creates many opportunities for young Royals players to play together.
The 33-year-old Merrifield has scored 0.340 with 30 base hits and 15 stolen bases in 95 games this season. But he has proven to be reliable – his 553 Iron Man streak ended last month with a toe injury – and he has led the league in hits twice, leading league in the stolen bases three times and led the AL 42 times doubles last season.
Merrifield is making $7 million this season and will have to pay $2.75 million next season along with a $4 million bonus for spending less than 110 days on the injury list in 2022. He has an $18 million mutual option for 2024 with a $500,000 purchase.
“I like Whit. I like him as a player. I like him as a human being,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said before their game against the White Sox in Chicago. “But I also realized that it wasn’t a shock. This conversation started a long time ago.”
Toronto, which started Tuesday with a three-game lead over Tampa Bay for AL’s top wild card, missed the quarterback George Springer in the squad for the third time in the last four games against the Rays due to a right elbow injury.
Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said Springer will be reevaluated on Wednesday.
“He’s going to do some stuff on the pitch today and will revisit it later,” said Schneider, “but it’s not anything specific right now. You definitely want to put him in place. mind to be good, to be successful and to help us, so we hope that all goes well. We hope nothing crazy gets in the way of him and his performance and us .”
It’s been a busy day for the Blue Jays, who have painkillers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop along with a later named player from Miami for short-term prospect Jordan Groshans; right-hander Mitch White and quarterback Alex DeJesus from the Dodgers to right-hander Nick Frasso and left-hander Moises Brito; sending right-hand man Jeremy Beasley to Pittsburgh to collect cash; left-handed people remember Matt Gage from Buffalo; and assigned left-hander Anthony Banda to the assignment.
Bass is 2/3 with 1.41 ERA in 45 games for Miami while Pop is 2-0 with 3.60 ERA in 18 games.
“The two throwers were very strong,” said Schneider. “Anything to compliment what we have is great.”
The Royals were less busy than many expected ahead of time, though they did trade late with the Padres by sending backup catcher Cam Gallagher to San Diego to find minor league quarterback Brent Rooker.
Gallagher played just 18 games for Kansas City this season, ceding the job Salvador Perez to increase prospects MJ Melendez. 27-year-old Rooker hit the ,272 mark with 19 home-team players in 61 games for Triple-A El Paso this season.
“I’m shocked. It’s a business. I love the Royal Family. I’ll miss all the memories and I’ll try to get to know them,” said Gallagher, who spent six seasons in Kansas City. . “But at the end of the day, it’s a new opportunity for me.”