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Better Know Your Blue Jays 40-man: Whit Merrifield

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Whit Merrifield is a 34-year-old, right-handed hitting second baseman/outfielder (and he also played some first base for us, and he pitched an inning for us last year). 34 in OOTP Baseball is about the end of the line.

Whit came to us in trade from the Royals on August 2nd last year for Samad Taylor and Max Castillo. Max pitched in 5 games, 4 starts and had a 9.16 ERA. He’s a better pitcher than that, but fifth starter/spot starter seems his ceiling.

Merrifield had a very slow start with the Jays. 26 games in he hit a big .182/239/227. But things improved. In his last 18 games of the season, he hit .400/.424/.709 with 4 home runs.

His season numbers weren’t great, .250/.298/.375 with 11 home runs, 16 steals (only one with the Jays).

I really didn’t understand the trade at the time. It seemed like we had enough middle infielders, and Santiago Espinal made the All-Star team. But Merrifield played 12 games in CF, and 12 in the corners (as well as 22 games at second. And Espinal’s bat cooled off at the end of the season.

There is a question of what his role will be this year.

He could platoon in center, Kevin Kiermaier really shouldn’t be playing against left-handed pitching. He could also spell Daulton Varsho in left. Versho could have some days off against tough lefties. He could be part of a complicated platoon, playing left or right on Kiermaier’s days off, with Varsho or Springer moving to center. And/or he could take a share of second base if Santiago Espinal hits as he did in the second half of last season.

Likely it will be a combination of all those things.

But then, what he plays and how much he plays will depend on how he performs. Whit will make $6.75 million and has a ‘mutual option’ worth $18 million next year, with a $500,000 buyout. I can’t imagine there is any possibility that the Jays will be picking up that option.

If he gets off to a good start, he’ll play a lot.

If he doesn’t, we have no end of utility players in the upper minors. He’s 34, but he’s only one year removed from a 3.6 bWAR season. He’s had a nice seven-year career, hitting .285/.331/.426 with speed and good defense. I don’t think we’ll see him steal 40 bases ever again, but he could stay in that 10-20 range. He’s had four seasons with bWARs above 3.

Steamer doesn’t think he’ll be great. It has him playing 117 games and hitting .259/.306/.386 with 10 home runs and 20 steals. That seems like a lot of games played for someone with a sub .700 OPS.


If the over/under for Merrifield’s games played is 117 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (242 votes)
  • 48%
    (227 votes)
469 votes total Vote Now


Merrifield will spend most of his playing time as a

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Second baseman
    (295 votes)
  • 38%
    (184 votes)
479 votes total Vote Now


If the over/under on Merrifield’s OPS is .700 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    (319 votes)
  • 29%
    (131 votes)
450 votes total Vote Now


By September, Merrifield will be

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    An everyday player
    (171 votes)
  • 50%
    A part time player
    (241 votes)
  • 14%
    No longer with the Jays
    (68 votes)
480 votes total Vote Now