The organization was in sell mode, yet it chose to keep one of its most valuable assets.
On the surface, it seemed odd, but it was actually the right decision.
Merrifield is a great long-term fit for the franchise, and he aligns perfectly with the team’s mission to get back to contention.
Today, we’re going to get into why KC made the right choice in holding onto him.
He’s Under Club Control Through The 2023 Season
Merrifield is a homegrown talent for the Royals.
They picked him in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB Draft, and he has blown expectations out of the water.
It took him a while to get to the Majors—he made his debut in his age-27 season—but the wait was worthwhile.
We’ll look at his resume in just a minute.
He’s currently under contract through the 2023 season, meaning Kansas City is going to have at least two more years with him after this one ends.
Given the loyalty that the Royals showed him by not trading him at the 2021 deadline, there’s a pretty good chance the two sides could ultimately agree to an even longer deal.
Kansas City’s rebuild is on a great trajectory, and by the time it all comes together, Merrifield could find himself on a contending Royals team.
— Kauffman Live (@KauffmanLive) August 20, 2021
That’s the ultimate goal.
Merrifield Is A Great Anchor For The Team
Fans have grown to love Merrifield in Kansas City.
In a nutshell, he does two things extremely well: hitting for contact and stealing bases.
He has completed five seasons at the MLB level, and this is what he has accomplished so far:
- He led the league in hits in 2018 and 2019.
- He led the league in stolen bases in 2017 and 2018.
- He leads the league in stolen bases this season.
- He is a two-time All-Star.
Whit Merrifield, playing in his 162nd game of the year, has just been pulled and received a huge ovation. He will be the first right handed hitter to lead MLB in hits in back to back seasons since Kirby Puckett. pic.twitter.com/Tuagpe8Mhr
— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) September 29, 2019
He’s also a horse.
Merrifield rarely misses time with injuries.
He played all 162 games in 2019, all 60 games in 2020, and has so far appeared in all 120 of the Royals’ games in 2021.
That’s the type of player you want around for a long time, and he’s also the type of player you want to anchor your rebuild.
Merrifield’s brand of baseball is very rare in today’s day and age.
In this era, hitting for average means less than ever, and stolen base attempts are far less common than they used to be.
But Merrifield is here to stay.
He’s certainly not your average superstar in the year 2021, but he’s got something really cool going for him.
The Royals evidently have very high hopes for what they want to accomplish during his stint with the team.
The organization seemingly believes that it’s very close to breaking through.
With the benefit of a very weak American League Central division, perhaps that could happen sooner than expected.
KC fans will rejoice when the Royals finally do return to the postseason.
The team has not had a winning campaign since 2015—the year it won the World Series.
That needs to change soon, and it likely will.