Royals utilityman Whit Merrifield is unsurprisingly drawing interest from contenders with the trade deadline just a few days away. The Cubs, Braves and Phillies are among the teams eyeing Merrifield, but it appears they’ll have to look elsewhere. The Royals are telling teams they’re not going to deal him, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports.
Even though the Royals are just 39-64 this season and will have trouble pushing for a playoff spot in the near future, the 30-year-old Merrifield has never looked like an especially realistic trade candidate. Royals general manager Dayton Moore hasn’t made it any secret he has an affinity for Merrifield, who he said in June is “one of the best players in all of baseball right now.” Moore also stated then it would take a “crazy” offer for Kansas City to move Merrifield, whom it signed to a four-year, $16.25MM extension in the offseason.
On a KC team with few major bright spots, Merrifield has continued his run as an eminently valuable performer this year. He has slashed .306/.357/.495 (122 wRC+) with 49 extra-base hits (28 doubles, 12 home runs, nine triples) and 15 steals on 23 attempts in 470 plate appearances. Merrifield has also chipped in 4 Defensive Runs Saved and a 1.3 Ultimate Zone Rating between second base and the outfield. The entire package has been worth 2.9 bWAR/2.7 fWAR. Between Merrifield’s affordability and his on-field excellence, there’s a case the rebuilding Royals should trade him – they’d surely net an exorbitant return – but it doesn’t look as if it’s going to happen.
Meanwhile, reliever Jake Diekman seems almost guaranteed to change uniforms by the end of the month. In addition to the already reported Phillies, Dodgers and Nationals, Diekman has drawn interest from the Cubs, Cardinals and Braves, per Morosi. Diekman, 32, is on a $2.75MM guarantee and has a $5.75MM mutual option for 2020. The hard-throwing left-hander has pitched to a pedestrian 4.75 ERA in 41 2/3 innings this season. But he has logged a far better 3.36 FIP with 13.61 K/9, 4.97 BB/9 and a 48.4 percent groundball rate.