Trade rumors are picking up with less than four weeks to go until the July 31 deadline, and while Mike Moustakas has drawn the most interest on the Royals, it is Whit Merrifield that is starting to come up in rumors lately. Recently, the Milwaukee Brewers were said to be “expressing interest” in the second baseman, but the Philadelphia Phillies may be interested as well, according to MLB reporter Jon Paul Morosi.
Merrifield has been the most valuable Royals player by WAR, according to Baseball Reference, with 2.2. He is tied for sixth in that metric among all players who have spent at least half their time at second base this year. Merrifield has also spent time at center field, right field, and first base, which should only add to his value. Overall, he is hitting .290/.359/.414 with five home runs and 16 steals in 83 games.
The first-place Phillies already have Cesar Hernandez, who has played well this year, at second base. They have gotten poor production out of right-field - third-worst in baseball by OPS - and acquiring Merrifield could allow them to move Odubel Herrera to right field since his defensive numbers in center have taken a hit this year. The Phillies could also see him as a part-time alternative to the struggling Maikel Franco at third base. Or the Phillies could see him as a sparkplug that could hit at the top of the lineup and play everywhere on the field, a valuable player in the post-season. The fact that Merrifield is under club control through the 2021 season should also be enticing for a young team like Philadelphia just entering their window of contention.
The Phillies had also been reported to be interested in Moustakas. A package deal is possible, although the more moving parts there are, the less likely a deal becomes. The Phillies have a pretty strong farm system - ranked sixth by Baseball America - as well as a roster full of young players that might be attractive to the Royals.