The Hot Stove is starting to heat up as teams meet in San Diego for the annual Winter Meetings, and it could be the hometown Padres trying to acquire the most valuable Royals player. The San Diego Padres are the latest team to pursue Whit Merrifield, according to multiple reports. MLB Network reporter Mark Feinsand says the Padres have “been trying to deal for Whit Merrifield”, but the Royals have been reluctant to deal their All-Star second baseman.
The Padres have been trying to deal for Whit Merrifield, per source. The Royals have been very reluctant to deal Merrifield; here’s what Dayton Moore told KC beat writers on Monday. pic.twitter.com/ry6N9fiC1Q— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 10, 2019
Last year, Padres second basemen combined to hit just .226/.323/.361. The team still has veteran Ian Kinsler, and recently acquired Jurickson Profar from the Athletics, but Merrifield could be attractive to the Padres due to his ability to play other positions.
The Padres remain very open to acquiring players who could play positions other than their current, primary assignments. That’s why Whit Merrifield, who can play the outfield and is on a very team-friendly contract, makes sense as someone the Padres would target.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) December 11, 2019
It is easy to see why Merrifield would be particularly attractive to a team like the Padres. He is still a very valuable player and the Padres are looking to transition from a rebuilding club to a contender. They could use a table-setter in front of big hitters like Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis, Jr., something Merrifield excels at. And his club-friendly contract would make him enticing for a cost-conscious club like the Padres. Unlike the Cubs, who have also been rumored to be very interested in Merrifield, the Padres are rich in prospects. MLB Pipeline ranked them as the top farm system in baseball.
However Dayton Moore recently said that Merrifield is part of the future. He told MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan he would have to be overwhelmed by an offer to deal the 31-year old Merrifield. However, he has always left the door open, adding “there’s no player on this roster, there’s no player in this organization that is untouchable if you get the right type of deal. You have to be open-minded and responsible to the process.”
Regarding the obligatory Whit Merrifield trade rumors (one more today): Dayton Moore has told us repeatedly over the past six months, and again here at the Winter Meetings, he is holding onto his core players, including Whit. Yes, things can change, but it seems really remote.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) December 11, 2019
Merrifield led the league in hits the last two seasons, and is a two-time stolen base champion. Last year he was a 4.0 WAR player, according to Baseball Reference, hitting .302/.348/.463 with 16 home runs and 10 triples, while playing in all 162 games. He has a base salary of just $14.5 million over the next three seasons with a club option in 2023 for $10.5 million.