Mariners Trade-a-Day: A Kansas City Two-fer

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 22: Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals swings and makes contact in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during a MLB game at Comerica Park on April 22, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 22: Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals swings and makes contact in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during a MLB game at Comerica Park on April 22, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

Dee Gordon’s transition from second base to center field didn’t go so well. The Royals similarly experimented with Whit Merrifield and he exceeded expectations. Such flexibility is something the Mariners need and can realistically obtain.

Mariner fans are very familiar with Whit Merrifield for how hard of an out he’s been. In the Mariners’ two series against the Royals in 2018, it felt as if Merrifield got a hit in every one of his at-bats. That’s an exaggeration, but he still finished 11-for-25 in the six games.

The thing is, he’s successful at the plate no matter who he’s playing against. Entering the All-Star break, Merrifield is slashing .307/.378/.434 for a 124 wRC+. He’s already been worth 3.2 fWAR with positive ratings in both offensive and defensive metrics.

Every number mentioned are career highs for Merrifield, but that’s not the most impressive thing about him this year.

As I mentioned early on, the Royals have experimented with Merrifield in the outfield to allow Adalberto Mondesi more time at second base. In 110 innings in center field, Merrifield has a +1.4 UZR. For comparison, Dee Gordon and Guillermo Heredia have UZRs of -2.7 and -3.8 respectively.

Of course, Gordon and Heredia have seen significantly more time in center this year than Merrifield. But the small sample size is impressive, and Merrifield’s athleticism indicates that he could continue his success in center.

Another effect of Merrifield’s athleticism is the ability to steal bases. Acquiring Merrifield would give the Mariners three legit threats on the base paths, joining Gordon and Jean Segura.

Perhaps the best part of all is that Merrifield is club-controlled until 2023. However, that mixed with his incredible success this year makes the Royals’ asking price skyrocket.

The Royals will want Kyle Lewis, but they’re not going to get him. Instead, our proposal looks down other avenues to lower the asking price while giving the Royals significant value.


The Royals are currently 18th in the MLB in team payroll, below league average. In the offseason, they let two franchise centerpieces in Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain walk due to money. Taking that into consideration, they’re probably not very excited about paying a 29-year-old Danny Duffy $14 million while in a rebuilding period.

Last month, Colby wrote an article about a potential Duffy acquisition. At the time, Duffy was struggling with an abysmal 5.28 ERA and didn’t seem all too attractive.

Since the article, Duffy’s gotten back on track for the most part. He’s had a couple hiccups, once against the Astros and another against the Indians, giving up six earned runs in both games. In his four other starts, however, he’s only been tagged for one run.

While the trade market is devoid of many left-handed starting pitchers, Duffy’s early struggles certainly have hurt his value quite a bit. With his recent string of successful, now might be the best time to sell on him.

In most cases, teams buying Duffy will likely request a bit of money pushed their way to pay for the three-and-a-half years left on his contract. But in our proposal, the Mariners will assume every cent owed to Duffy.

Why? Considering that the Mariners are far off from the luxury tax border, adding Duffy’s contract isn’t a problem for them. In fact, if Duffy gets things turned around for good, $14 million per year is somewhat of a steal.

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To the Royals, that’s an overpay. But the Mariners and Royals are two different franchises, with the former having a lot more payroll flexibility and the opportunity to end a 17-year playoff drought.

Not only does Duffy give the Mariners a potential rotation upgrade, but taking his contract off of Kansas City’s hands brings down the asking price for Whit Merrifield.

What I have the Mariners giving up still significantly hurts, though.

The name that likely jumped out to you the most is Ryon Healy. As I mentioned in my article about Robinson Cano’s future at first base, Healy doesn’t have a clear future with the Mariners. I don’t feel comfortable putting him on a playoff roster, and the Mariners may feel the same way.

Still, Healy is an MLB-ready talent with notable power and four-and-a-half years of club control. The Royals’ top first base prospect, Nick Pratto, isn’t expected to reach the Majors for quite some time, allowing the Royals to give Healy every opportunity to figure it out.

If Healy’s able to fix his plate discipline issues, he could be a very solid hitter for the Royals. Even if it doesn’t work out for him at first base defensively, he could be their designated hitter for years to come.

While three of the Royals’ six top prospects per MLB Pipeline are outfielders, none of them have been very impressive. Enter Julio Rodriguez, who has been dominating rookie ball in 2018 with a .326/.412/.504 slash line.

Considering that Rodriguez is only 17-years-old and is hitting like that, giving him up hurts quite a bit. He’s a legitimate prospect with some star potential. But acquiring a player like Whit Merrifield without having to give up Kyle Lewis makes this an easier decision.

Rizzo may end up being a corner outfielder after it’s all said and done, but for now, gives the Royals an intriguing infield prospect to play with.

At just 21-years-old, Newsome has already worked his way up to Modesto and is pitching well. In 100.2 innings pitched, Newsome has a 3.86 FIP with a K/9 of 8.14 and a BB/9 of just 0.72. Yeah, he’s not walking anyone.

If he continues to pitch the way he has in the Royals’ system, they may see him pitching in Kauffman as soon as 2019.

It’s worth noting that the Royals’ farm system is rather comparable to the Mariners’. In all honesty, it’s in worse shape than the Mariners’ and that’s saying something.

Next: Mariners Trade Deadline Plan: 5 Trades To End the Drought

In any case, it’s a deal that truly helps both teams out with the positions they’re in. Acquiring Merrifield and Duffy makes the Mariners legit contenders in the playoffs, and the Royals get a few pieces that can help them immediately and in the future.