Award season is officially upon us, as this year's Gold Glove finalists have already been announced and on Thursday it was the Silver Slugger Award finalists. Winners of the Silver Sluggers will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 6pm ET on MLB Network.
Many of the typical suspects found themselves in the running for a Silver Slugger Award. Aaron Judge, Marcus Semien, Alex Bregman, Shohei Ohtani, Rafael Devers and Corey Seager are amongst some of the most recognizable nominees in the American League. Notably absent from the ballot(s) are a few Blue Jays representatives. Sure, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman and Bo Bichette had stretches of hot and cold play in this past season, but surprisingly not one of them made it into the finals.
Instead, it was utilityman Whit Merrifield (of all people!) who made the cut as the only finalist on the Blue Jays. This hammers home the fact that the Jays sacrificed offense entirely too much this past offseason in an effort to improve their overall defense.
Merrifield, an All-Star for the third time in his career in 2023, is set to hit the free agent market any day now. He has an $18M club option in his contract, but the likeliest outcome feels like the Blue Jays declining it and pursuing alternatives elsewhere this offseason. He could potentially come back, but it'd have to be on a lower-cost deal.
The 34-year-old performed admirably this season, in what was his first full one as a member of the Blue Jays. He made it into 145 games and his 27 doubles and 11 home runs with 67 RBI, 26 stolen bases, a .272 average and .700 OPS. His ability to bounce around all over the diamond absolutely boosted his value, but the fact of the matter is that he finished the year with an OPS+ of 94 which is hardly Silver Slugger-worthy.
Merrifield is set to go up against Brandon Drury of the Angels, Gunnar Henderson of the Orioles and Isaac Paredes of the Rays in the "utility" portion of this year's Silver Slugger voting. In MLB's announcement about this year's finalists, they name Merrifield as one of the game's most established utility players, but there's still no shot he brings home this award this offseason.
Bichette's exclusion from the list is rather surprising as well. The 25-year-old had 20 home runs, 73 RBI, a .306 average and 123 OPS+ in 135 games this year. He likely would not have won the award thanks to the presence of Corey Seager on the ballot, but JP Crawford making the cut over Bichette is a rather peculiar choice.