Free agent deal appears to be imminent for ex-standout Blue Jays utilityman

Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics
Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

In terms of former Toronto Blue Jays players looking for a new home for 2024, one free agent may be closing in on a deal that may be imminent. Sources have reported that Whit Merrifield is expecting to land a contract as soon as this weekend, as per MLB insider Jon Morosi, as talks have picked up with multiple teams interested in his services.

Back in 2022, the Jays acquired Merrifield from the Kansas City Royals in an under-the-radar move when many thought the team was looking to bolster their pitching depth at the time. He was amidst one of his worst seasons and appeared to be on the decline as a player on the wrong side of 30. However, a brief two-week spurt in September where he displayed some of his prior dominant form gave Merrifield some life heading into 2023.

Last year, the now 35-year-old utilityman revitalized his career with a strong season. He compiled a solid .272 batting average and a .700 OPS, along with 66 runs scored, 27 doubles, 11 home runs and 67 RBI in 145 games played. More importantly, he showed he still had wheels with 26 stolen bases and was an All-Star for the third time in his career. In addition, he put his flexibility on full display by playing respectable defence both at second base and in the outfield, along with hitting effectively in various spots in the batting order throughout the season.

However, Merrifield struggled a bit down the stretch, with Cavan Biggio replacing him in the starting lineup, and ultimately for the playoffs as well. Eventually, the Jays and Merrifield declined their mutual option in the end, letting him walk into free agency for this offseason. He previously expressed that his best position is second base, but was open to being flexible on where he plays if needed. 

Nevertheless, with Merrifield likely reaching a decision soon, the Jays will move on with the likes of Biggio, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Santiago Espinal to fill the utilityman role for the upcoming season. Hopefully the incumbent trio can at least replicate or surpass the production provided by Merrifield to make his departure more palatable.