Jays get former All-Star Merrifield at the deadline

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Whit Merrifield mentioned final month he is likely to be keen to get vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 if it meant taking part in for a crew in rivalry, although he had refused to get the shot whereas taking part in for the last-place Kansas Metropolis Royals.

He’ll should make that call now.

In a singular and doubtlessly unprecedented scenario, the Royals traded Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays simply minutes earlier than the commerce deadline Tuesday. And if the two-time All-Star needs to play any video games in Canada down the stretch, Merrifield might be required to get one of many accepted vaccines to enter the nation.

“We’ll let him work through that with his family,” Blue Jays basic supervisor Ross Atkins mentioned, whereas declining extra touch upon the matter. “We felt like we made a very good team better today.”

Merrifield was amongst 10 gamers on the Royals who had been unvaccinated final month, stopping them from making their journey to Toronto. When requested about his choice, Merrifield drew the ire of Kansas Metropolis followers by saying: “Something happens and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes.”

Many took that to imply Merrifield was unwilling to get vaccinated for his present crew however would for another person.

“The extent of our conversation with Whit and his vaccination status ended when we were going to Toronto because after that it didn’t effect us,” Royals basic supervisor J.J. Picollo mentioned. “The conversations we had with Toronto, I’m going to keep private. There’s no need for me to talk about a player on another team.”

The Royals acquired within the deal speedy teenager Samad Taylor and right-hander Max Castillo, each of whom may Help their massive league crew as early as this season. The 24-year-old Taylor is hitting .258 with 9 homers and 23 stolen bases in 70 video games for Triple-A Buffalo whereas the 23-year-old Castillo has a 3.05 ERA in 9 appearances for Toronto.

The deal additionally creates extra alternatives for the Royals’ younger core to play collectively.

The 33-year-old Merrifield was hitting simply .240 with 30 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in 95 video games this season. However he has confirmed to be reliable, taking part in each recreation for Kansas Metropolis every of the previous three seasons, and he’s twice led the league in hits, led the league in stolen bases 3 times and had an AL-leading 42 doubles final season.

Merrifield is making $7 million this season and is due $2.75 million subsequent season together with a $4 million bonus for spending fewer than 110 days on the injured listing in 2022. He has an $18 million mutual choice for 2024 with a $500,000 buyout.

“I like Whit. I like him as a player. I like him as a person,” Royals supervisor Mike Matheny mentioned earlier than their recreation in opposition to the White Sox in Chicago. “But I also realize that it’s not a shock. This conversation started a long time ago.”

Toronto, which started Tuesday with a three-game lead over Tampa Bay for the AL’s prime wild card, was lacking outfielder George Springer within the lineup for the third time within the final 4 video games in opposition to the Rays resulting from a proper elbow damage.

Blue Jays interim supervisor John Schneider mentioned Springer might be re-evaluated Wednesday.

“He’s going to do some stuff on the field today and then kind of revisit it,” Schneider mentioned, “but it’s not anything concrete right now. You definitely want to put him in a spot to be good, have success and Help us, so we’re hopeful that everything goes good. We hope it’s not anything crazy where it’s going to hinder him and his performance and us.”

It was a busy day for the Blue Jays, who bought relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop together with a participant to be named later from Miami for shortstop prospect Jordan Groshans; right-hander Mitch White and infielder Alex DeJesus from the Dodgers for right-hander Nick Frasso and left-hander Moises Brito; despatched right-hander Jeremy Beasley to Pittsburgh for money; recalled left-hander Matt Gage from Buffalo; and designated left-hander Anthony Banda for project.

Bass is 2-3 with 1.41 ERA in 45 video games for Miami whereas Pop is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA over 18 outings.

“Two guys that throw hard,” Schneider mentioned. “Anything to kind of compliment what we have is awesome.”

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