While there is still baseball being played, the Toronto Blue Jays unfortunately are on the sidelines to watch the Rangers, Astros, Phillies and Diamondbacks fight it out to see which two clubs are World Series-bound.
The Blue Jays' season ended with a whimper in the form of a two-game Wild Card Series sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins. Next up on the docket for the Jays is the day that all of their pending free agents hit the open market.
This list includes Hyun Jin Ryu, Brandon Belt, Kevin Kiermaier, Jay Jackson, Matt Chapman and Jordan Hicks. Chad Green and Whit Merrifield both have team options, with Merrifield's being an $18M one and Green's being a bit more complicated than that.
Merrifield, 34, is technically not a lock to even reach free agency, but that doesn't mean his name isn't already floating around the rumor mill. According to Bruce Levine, a Chicago Cubs and White Sox insider for 670 The Score, the White Sox are already "discussing trading for Salvador Perez and signing Merrifield at length" this offseason.
Whit Merrifield already drawing interest on the free agent market
The White Sox are heading for some long years of tearing it down and building a winning club from the ground up. This season they went just 61-101 while receiving poor showings from nearly every hitter in their lineup and every pitcher on their staff. The club has a virtual black hole at second base moving forward, and Merrifield could fill that void nicely.
A long-time member of the Royals, Merrifield is intimately familiar with the White Sox. He spent the first seven years of his career in the AL Central and has spent a ton of time at Guaranteed Rate Field. In 2023, the utilityman made his third All-Star Game but largely limped to the finish line, failing to record an OPS+ over 100 (league-average) in 145 games.
Along the way, he hit 27 doubles and 11 home runs with 67 RBI, 26 stolen bases and had a respectable .272 batting average. His .700 OPS leaves much to be desired, though, and his cumulative stat line is nowhere near enough for the Blue Jays to be justified in picking up his expensive team option.
While the Blue Jays will be able to easily replace Merrifield's production in the lineup (perhaps in the form of Davis Schneider), the White Sox should be all-in on him, as there is next to no player in the organization capable of lining up at the position on an every day basis in 2024. Even before these rumors surfaced, Merrifield was good as gone, now we even have a team emerging as an early suitor.