Predicting where each Blue Jays free agent will sign this offseason

Will the Blue Jays manage to re-sign any of their departing free agents?

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

After struggling for much of the 2022 season with the Kansas City Royals and with his future left in doubt, Merrifield’s bounce-back 2023 season with the Jays has helped revitalize his career. Not only did he return to form to hit effectively in various spots in the lineup throughout the season, he also received an All-Star nod as a result of his performance.

In this past season, Merrifield compiled a .272 batting average with a .700 OPS, along with 66 runs scored, 11 home runs and 67 RBI. He also added 26 stolen bases, showing that he still got the wheels despite turning 35 soon. The Jays and Merrifield had a mutual option they could have exercised, but both sides declined it, allowing him to proceed into free agency. Merrifield had previously voiced his displeasure on how certain things were run following their early playoff exit, so that could have played a role in the mutual decision.

In a recent interview with the MLB Network, Merrifield highlighted what he was looking for in terms of a potential fit with a ballclub. He revealed that his strongest position and preference is playing at second base, but was open to maintaining his positional versatility if needed. In addition, despite hitting in various parts of the batting order with the Jays in 2023, his preference is to hit near the top of the order.

Sports Illustrated indicated that both the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox would fit the bill based on those criteria. However, with the Red Sox's plans in limbo after moving on from Verdugo, Merrifield likely would want to play for a contender instead. As a result, joining the Mariners makes the most sense as he should become the team’s starting second baseman. That is because Kolten Wong had left for free agency and rookie second baseman José Caballero lacked offensive potential with his bat. Merrifield may also get his wish to hit at the top of the lineup, with star outfielder Julio Rodríguez likely hitting before or behind him forming a strong one-two punch at the top of the order.

Prediction: Mariners