Question 3: A New Royal Infielder
Merrifield is the Royals best offensive player and is under club control for another 5 seasons. For a rebuilding club like Kansas City, would it be smart to give up such a player? However, unlike most players in Merrifield’s situation, he is a tad older. He is playing in his age 29 season, hurting his value slightly.
Second, is there a need for the Mariners? In the short-term, with both Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon out, absolutely. But what happens when they return? Gordon might be back as early as June 1st. Perhaps then, the Mariners could shift Gordon back to the OF and give Merrifield the second base job.
The problem with that is that the Mariners would be downgrading defensively at 2B and CF. Guillermo Heredia is an above-average CF and Dee Gordon is a Gold Glove 2B. Merrifield is a solid above-average second baseman.
Merrifield does have some MLB experience in the OF but has graded out at below-average in the small sample size. So the need is really up for debate.
Finally, even if the Royals are willing to trade him and if the Mariners decide they want him, what would the whole thing cost?
It seems reasonable for the Royals to ask for Kyle Lewis in return, given that Merrifield has 4 1/2 years of club control and is a solid 3 win player right now. Should the Mariners be willing to give up Kyle Lewis for a player with no obvious long-term fit that may or may not help them in 2018?
Remember, it’s not just trading Lewis for Merrifield. It also requires moving somebody out of the lineup. So Lewis and Guillermo Heredia worth Merrifield? Or Lewis and Healy (if you want Dee at CF and Cano at 1B)? Does it make you better?
Ultimately, I put Whit Merrifield exactly where I put Dee Gordon in November. Man, it would be a lot of fun. But there probably isn’t a place to play him, and the cost would be too high.
But then again, Dee Gordon is wearing a Mariners uniform, so I wouldn’t say there’s a zero chance of it happening.