The Royals have agreement on a four-year contract with second baseman Whit Merrifield according to ESPN reporter Jeff Passan. MLB Network reporter Jon Morosi was the first to report on a potential deal.
There’s 5th year club option on Merrifield deal, which can top 30M if maxes out #kc— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 28, 2019
The four-year deal would cover all of Merrifield’s arbitration years, and a club option would buy out his first year of free agency. If the option was exercised, Merrifield would be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season, when he will be going on 35-years old.
The 30-year old Merrifield did not make his Major League debut until 2016, at age 27. In 384 career Major League games, he has been worth 9.5 WAR, the eighth-most valuable second baseman in baseball over that time according to Fangraphs. Last year Merrifield was worth 5.2 WAR alone, becoming just the third player since World War II to lead the Majors in both hits and stolen bases in the same year.
Merrifield expressed his openness to a long-term deal with the Royals over the summer, as there were trade rumors swirling around the infielder/outfielder. Despite rumors that teams like the Phillies were interested, Dayton Moore insisted Merrifield would stay put, saying “We need him in our city and on our team.” Moore reiterated that position at the Winter Meetings, telling MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, “We’ve pretty much made it clear we want Whit Merrifield to be part of our team.”
Merrifield is not even yet eligible for arbitration, and was due to make a little over the league minimum of $555,000. A long-term deal gives Merrifield financial stability he has never enjoyed, having signed out of college for a bonus of $100,000 and spending years toiling in the minors. A deal would also gives the Royals some cost-certainty, allowing them to avoid the messy arbitration process. Merrifield would join Danny Duffy and Salvador Perez as the only players under contract past 2020.
Monday update: Here are the financial terms. The Royals will hold a press conference this afternoon.
Per source to https://t.co/6TSm0LErFq, here's the Whit Merrifield breakdown in contract: $1M in 2019, $5M in 2020, $6.75M in 2021, and $2.75M in 2022 with a $750,000 buyout on club option. The club option is $10.5M in 2023. There are no PBs, but there are escalators in 2021-2022.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) January 28, 2019