The Padres traded second baseman Luis Urias to the Brewers a couple weeks ago, and now they’re attempting to replace him. To that end, they’ve “been trying to” swing a deal for Royals second baseman/outfielder Whit Merrifield, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old Merrifield has been the subject of trade rumors for a while, but even though they haven’t been in contention, the Royals have refused to trade him thus far. Merrifield’s a favorite of Royals general manager Dayton Moore, though (per Feinsand) he admitted that the team must “be open-minded” in regards to any potential deal.
If the Royals are holding out for a haul of young talent for Merrifield, no team may be better equipped to put together a package than the farm-rich Padres. And finding a way to reel in Merrifield would be the latest sign the Padres are serious about breaking their long-running playoff drought in 2020.
On paper, Merrifield would be an enormous upgrade over the Urias-Ian Kinsler–Greg Garcia trio the Padres primarily relied on at second last season. Merrifield’s coming off an All-Star showing in which he slashed .302/.348/.463 with 16 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 2.9 fWAR in 735 plate appearances. Adding to Merrifield’s appeal, he’s only due to earn $15.25 through 2022 (including a buyout for ’23). However, that affordability could further encourage Kansas City to keep Merrifield.
Beyond second base, catcher is among the positions the Padres are focused on dealing with right now. They remain motivated to trade backstop Austin Hedges, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Though the team continues to provide public statements of support, it’s working to find a “new regular starter” behind the dish. Francisco Mejia is also still available, per Acee, though he’s less likely to be dealt. Trouble is for the Friars, it is difficult to identify quality backstops that could realistically be acquired. Willson Contreras of the Cubs is perhaps the most intriguing possibility.