2. Whit Merrifield
Whit Merrifield is a very good baseball player. He’s got great instincts on offense and defense, and is one of the most aggressive/smart/speedy baserunners in the sport. However, his production seems to be dipping.
Though on a very team-friendly contract (four years, $16.25 million, with an $18 million mutual option for 2024), the Yankees’ problem right now is having too many starting-caliber players for too few spots. And would they really be playing Merrifield over Gallo in left field right now? No shot.
There’s been enough of an infield logjam as well with DJ LeMahieu, Josh Donaldson, IKF and Gleyber Torres, so introducing another variable wouldn’t have been the most helpful move for manager Aaron Boone (though we’ll be regretting that statement when the inevitable injury bug hits).
The positives about Merrifield? He’s an iron man. Hasn’t missed a SINGLE GAME since 2019, and only four total since 2018. The down side? He’s in his age-33 season and we might already be seeing signs of regression. Outside of his rookie season, he registered career lows in batting average (.227), OBP (.317), OPS (.711) and OPS+ (92) last year. Yes, a bit nit-picky because he led the AL in doubles (42) and stolen bases (40) … but this year he’s hitting .127 with a -6 OPS+ and three steals through 17 games. Additionally, he’s mostly played right field and second base over the last few years, which wouldn’t have really fit into the Yankees’ plans right now.
Maybe our continued calls to trade for Merrifield were wrong in the end. Would take him on this team any day, but right now it probably wouldn’t have worked out.