The pros of the 11th hour swap
We’ll get to the concerns I have about the trade shortly, but for now let’s the celebrate the good.
First and foremost, and as I already mentioned, the Blue Jays were coming up against the deadline and were in danger of missing out on a piece to help the offence. The other three players they had acquired will all boost the pitching staff, but that wasn’t the only area of need for the roster.
Merrifield is a versatile and experienced veteran that is a capable defender at second base, and also in the outfield. His ability to move around will come in handy, and it could allow him to see more regular playing time as well. In the short-term, Merrifield could be a useful guy to have around to help cover for the absence of George Springer, who I still believe will end up on the Injured List at some point sooner than later. Hopefully Springer’s absence won’t be a long one, but Merrifield certainly provides an insurance policy up the middle, and as a hitter near the top of the order, where he has spent the bulk of his career.
There’s no denying that the 33 year old is having a tough year, but he’s still young enough that a change of scenery and a pennant race could do him a world of good. He’s a 2x All-Star who played in the midsummer classic as recently as last season, and he’s a career .286/.332/.425 hitter with 174 stolen bases over his seven-year career, including an AL-leading total of 40 in 2021.
As if that all doesn’t sound good enough, Merrifield is playing on one of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball. According to spotrac.com he’s making just seven million this year, 2.75 million next year (including a four million dollar bonus if he spends less than 110 days on the IL this year, which won’t be a problem), and a mutual option for 18 million in 2024 that includes a $500,000 buyout. That kind of contract control isn’t easy to find, and when it comes attached to a player who was an All-Star last season, it almost never happens.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to like the trade for the Blue Jays. Merrifield has a long history as an elite contributor in the big leagues, even if 2022 hasn’t gone according to plan, and his production is certainly worth rolling the dice on.