The New York Yankees should call the Kansas City Royals about Whit Merrifield. Now.
Having one of those two men in the lineup is pleasant. Having both? A nightmare for opposing pitchers, and an easy way for the Yanks to get on the Rays’ level when it comes to battling.
Merrifield is on the verge of becoming a local icon in Kansas City, the beloved veteran stuck on a non-contender with a cheap-enough contract through his prime years. Basically, the reality Alex Gordon lived out the past few seasons as the rest of the Royals roster sank around him.
He’s tied to the team through 2022 (team option for 2023), and has done absolutely nothing but hit and steal bases the past several seasons. Led the league in hits in ’18 and ’19. 19, 12, and 16 homers a season in his past three full campaigns. .304/.367/.438 in 2018. Basically, he’s a leveled-up pest with pop who can play anywhere, and his versatility is perhaps the most important thing he’d bring to the Yanks in a hypothetical.
Merrifield is the perfect antidote to a roster constantly in flux due to minor/major injuries to key pieces across the diamond. He can play short, second, third, left and right. No more Tyler Wade. No more Thairo Estrada. Much, much less Mike Tauchman. We’re looking at a pure hitter whose talents are on the verge of becoming irrelevant in his current home, but who could become the ultimate bandage for a contender — and if you don’t get him, you just know the Rays and Red Sox will come knocking.
Another reason you should want him on your roster? Cardinals fans want him and envision him as a perfect fit, and the Cardinals are typically just as annoyingly persistent as what we claim to want the Yankees offense to look like.
Why not one-up them at their own game?
So, what could it cost? Perhaps the Yankees can spin this into a larger package and fill a relief need — after all, what do the rebuilding Royals need with win-now relievers? Josh Staumont and his unhittable hammer whiffed 37 batters in 25.2 innings last season.
If you add Staumont into the deal, let’s make this a little more expensive and give the Royals two top-10 arms from the Yankees’ farm system in MLB Pipeline’s No. 5 Luis Gil and No. 8 Alexander Vizcaino, along with a middle infield prospect like Josh Smith, who seems like a Royal. If Staumont’s not involved, delete Vizcaino and add a back-end pitching prospect like TJ Sikkema, Luis Medina, or Albert Abreu.
This could easily work, but it would change the Yankees’ ethos and up their LeMahieu quotient by 100%. Will Cashman and Co. be willing to “sacrifice” power for consistency by adding a potential playoff gnat?