Whit Merrifield was a longtime dreamy New York Mets trade candidate. He eventually found his way to the Toronto Blue Jays, but a mutual option was declined by the team earlier this month. He's now a free agent and available.
Enough time has passed from his best days with the Kansas City Royals and the present for Merrifield to be as much of a clear cut fit for the Mets. They’ve changed. He has changed. Time has passed where Merrifield may longer be quite as desirable.
However, instead of prospects, all it would cost the Mets is money to bring Merrifield to town. We know this isn't as problematic. What about finding a role for Merrifield?
Does Whit Merrifield make sense for the Mets this offseason?
Merrifield was previously suggested for the Mets by Joel Sherman back in September alongside Justin Turner. Each had an opt out in their contract. Both ended up as free agents.
Nothing has changed much since then to make Merrifield a more attractive free agent target. The Mets are in a "it's not you, it's me" situation with him, though. As much as Merrifield could contribute, he's a little too similar to some of their other hitters.
Merrifield has the speed of Starling Marte combined with the bat and defensive versatility of Jeff McNeil. All three could theoretically coexist. The problem occurs when we realize the team has become too light on power with a reliance on speed from a pair of older players. Merrifield stole 26 bases last year for the Blue Jays in his age 34 campaign. The three-time stolen base champion has seen those numbers dwindle. He swiped just 16 a season before while also seeing his batting average drop to a career-low .250 and his OBP follow downward to .298.
On the cusp of becoming an “early ager,” he did rebound nicely this past year. Merrifield managed to slash .272/.318/.382 for the Blue Jays. He made 67 starts at second base and another 66 in left field with 4 more coming as the team’s right fielder.
Building a balanced roster should always be a goal of the front office. Unfortunately, Merrifield doesn't bring any more balance. He's more of the same.
Perhaps the biggest issue with a pursuit of Merrifield is his primary position of second base. The Mets have second basemen growing out of their ears. A move to the corner outfield for him or McNeil solves this and yet it feels unnecessary when there are power bats sitting out there who can offer something different.
Merrifield doesn’t help the Mets fill two of their most important vacancies in the lineup effectively enough; left field and DH. Only a small number of career starts at third base don’t do him any good there either.
Finally free for the Mets to sign, Merrifield is a free agent to decline and not sign.