clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Thoughts on a theoretical Merrifield/Schwarber swap

Would you be willing to trade your 30-year old team MVP for a 26-year old slugger?

Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

I was scrolling through the Twitterverse this afternoon and I stumbled upon an interesting proposition:

Interesting. David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago made the bold prediction that the Cubs will trade Kyle Schwarber for Whit Merrifield. My insta-reaction to this trade proposal was, “I don’t think that’s quite what the Royals should be looking for here.” Then I started thinking...

If I was the Kansas City Royals, this is absolutely a trade I’d listen to. Kyle Schwarber just finished his age-25 season with 26 HR in 137 games for the Chicago Cubs. He lost a ton of weight last off-season and improved his defense and base running significantly. I am a HUGE fan of Kyle Schwarber at the plate. The performance he put on in the 2016 World Series after missing most of the season was incredible. He’s exactly the type of bat I’d want in the lineup in KC next season.

I also totally understand why you wouldn’t want to trade Whit Merrifield for him. Whit was a top 25 position player in all of baseball last year and was far and away the Royals best player. Kyle Schwarber was not as good as Whit Merrifield in 2018. Why would you make that trade? Let me make the case for the trade, and then we can have a battle royale in the comments.

Reasons to make the trade if you’re Kansas City:

  1. Kyle Schwarber is four years younger than Whit Merrifield and he only has one less year on his contract. Kyle Schwarber is about to entire the prime of his career, Whit Merrifield is about to leave his. If there is talk around giving 30-year old Whit Merrifield an extension, wouldn’t it make significantly more sense to give an extension to a player who is four years younger?
  2. I maintain that Whit Merrifield will not be a key contributor for the Royals next playoff team. We can argue about this all day long in the comments if you’d like, I’ll be around. The Royals best chance to make a real run again appear to be just after the 2020 season. Are we going to bank on a 33-year old Whit Merrifield to be worth 4-5 wins at 33? What about Kyle Schwarber at 29? This isn’t about 2019 or even 2020, it’s about 2021 and beyond.
  3. Nicky Lopez is ready to play in the major leagues. Even if you disagree, it won’t be long before he is ready. His skill set is eerily similar to Whit and Lopez will be 24 next year. Lopez has tremendously more upside over the next 5-6 years than Whit does, and I’m ready to see him get a shot in the big leagues. Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield can’t both play second base. So here’s what you have to ask yourself: Would the combined efforts of Nicky Lopez and Kyle Schwarber outweigh the combined efforts of Whit Merrifield and....Jorge Bonifacio? In 2018, Merrifield and Bonifacio combined for 5.4 wins (fWAR). Schwarber was worth 3.2. Even if you double Boni’s output (suspension) and give him 0.4 wins (5.8 combined with Whit) Nicky Lopez would only need to be worth 2.6 wins (Jose Iglesias was worth 2.5 in Detroit with a .310 OBP) to match Schwarber, and that’s assuming Kyle Schwarber doesn’t get any better at the plate (he will) and Whit Merrifield doesn’t regress (he will).

Anyways. You know my thoughts. Make the trade. Take a 30-year old Schwarber when you’re ready to compete again over 30-year old Whit Merrifield on a 90-loss team. Yes, you’d rather have the top 100 prospect, but I have this weird feeling that, you know, no one has offered that since the Royals haven’t made the move. I’ll stop here though. I just wanted to bring the question to attention and open up a place for discussion regarding the trade proposal. You have my thoughts. Give me yours in the comments. I’ll be around to disagree.