Why all the disrespect towards Whit, Mr. Moore?

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week to go before Opening Day 2022 and Whit Merrifield is penciled in as the starting RF of the Kansas City Royals. Anything but this line-up would be a big surprise to me:

C Salvador Perez

1B Carlos Santana

2B Nicky Lopez

SS Adalberto Mondesi

3B Bobby Witt jr.

LF Andrew Benintendi

CF Michael A. Taylor

RF Whit Merrifield

DH Hunter Dozier

I wrote as a comment to Mike Gillespie's article The KC Royals have the correct plan for Adalberto Mondesi at King's of Kaufmann that I think handing Mondesi the SS position was a major disrespect towards both Nicky and Whit. Something I do very much believe to be true.

But the whole thing got me thinking.

Is, arguably, the best Royals Player during the "dark days" since 2017 becoming a problem by blocking young players or at least hindering the Royals in giving Olivares and Isbel an extended look at a corner and/or CF position?

You might think blocking is a little strong for a player of the caliber of Whit, but every statistic shows him being a bad RF; not average, but bad. For instance, his outfield assist rate is just .037; about half the rate average defensive RF have (Bryce Harper has .054, and a Gold Glove caliber RF like Joey Gallo has .087).

Plus, everybody expects Whit to decline further, pointing to his production over the last two years. Perfectly normal for a 33-year-old.

The solution is simple of course, put him at 2B and Nicky at SS and use Adalberto as a utility infielder, or trade Whit to a contender, finally. But that’s not the Royals/Moore’s way.

Ever since his breakout season in 2017, there had been trade rumors galore considering Whit both at the Trade-Deadlines and during the off-seasons; especially in his two best seasons in 2018 and 2019. Even last season, the Seattle Mariners supposedly had a real interest in trading for Whit at the deadline. I would love to have a Zach de Loach, a George Feliz, or a Sam Carlson in our farm system.

What I read was that Dayton Moore was asking for the moon, again. Of course, that is not happening for a 32-year-old on the decline.

Let's play a game of what if.

What if Whit was traded, let’s say in 2019 to the Texas Rangers (they traded Peter Fairbanks to the Rays for Nick Solak at 2B). Maybe for Fairbanks (81.1 innings pitching with 2 starts and a 2.84 ERA for the Rays), or maybe for Cole Winn (2.31 ERA in 19 Starts AA, 3.38 ERA in 2 starts AAA) since Whit is/was much better than Nick Solak at 2B.

Texas was 50-43 at 07/13 and 2 ½ games out of the WC spots, when the original trade happened.

Whit would have been given the chance to compete for the playoffs that year and the way Texas traded away their assets in 2020 he might have ended up with competitive teams (since then Texas did several trades with the Phillies and Yankees).

The Royals would have lost 100+ games, as they did anyway.

They would have had Mondesi/Lopez at SS/2B in 2020, as they had anyway.

They would have tried Dozier at RF, which they did anyway for 57 games, but would have given more time to Olivares and/or Isbel, and we would be wiser if they are the future for the Royals.

Furthermore, they would have called up Bobby Witt jr. a year earlier and played him at his natural position. Who knows what would have happened? A ROY trophy a year earlier, maybe?

They would have had a legit SP lock (IMO) next to Greinke (is he even here?), Keller and Singer.

And maybe trade Kowar, Zerpa, and Loftin for Matt Chapman as everyday 3B since Witt is playing SS?

Or tried out MJ at 3B? Or Pratto, so they have room for both Pratto and Vinnie?

Does this sound too far-fetched?

Whit would never admit it, but of course, a competitive athlete like him wants to win more than anything. Yes, even more than being loyal to a team that has not treated him royally, ever.

In 2014, they sign Omar Infante at 2B, which turned out to be a big mistake. To be honest, though, I was very happy with the signing at the time. Infante was coming off one of his best years. He did hit .318 and had an SLG of .450 and an OPS+ of 115. Plus, I had never heard of a Whit Merrifield, who's 2013 AA numbers weren't that eye-popping, either. (.270, .391 SLG, 17 SB).

Over the 2014 season, Infante did hit .252, .295 OBP (hey, basically Adalberto´s career numbers), .337 SLG, and an OPS+ of 76, a real disappointment, even though the Royals did get to the WS that year.

But 2015 would get even worse. After being hit in the head in spring training, he only hit .220, .234 OBP, .318 SLG, and an OPS+ of 48. He looked gun-shy all season, as if afraid of being pitched up and in. The Royals traded for Ben Zobrist that year and did not call up Whit, so he missed out on a WS ring, the last year the Royals went to the playoffs.

In 2016 Whit was called up and played 81 games with the Royals in the last non-losing season.

He did not make the team out of spring training in 2017 but was recalled on 04/19 after hitting .412 and having an OPS of 1.227 in 9 games for Omaha. Opening day 2B was Adalberto Mondesi (of course, who else), but he was sent down after hitting .170. He did appear in 25 games in 2017.

Ever since 2017, Whit was one of the best 2B in the league and teams wanted to trade for him every year, but the Royals refused.

What they did do was buy out his arbitration for peanuts. 4 yrs/$16.25M. Yes, to you and me, that 4M per year would be awesome. For someone the leads the league in hitting in 2 of those 4 years, that is dawg-gone cheap.

So let's recap the Royals' treatment of Whit:

First, it takes them 6 years to give him a shot in the big leagues, in 2015 they don’t even call him up in September even with Infante being unplayable.

They pass up every opportunity of him being traded to a contender and playing competitively, plus cashing in on one or two young prospects (maybe in the OF?).

They buy him out for peanuts (yes, Whit could have not signed and played the arbitration game, but after having to wait 6 years for his shot, I understand that he took the 16M, even though he could have gotten at least 10M more in arbitration. He was already 28 and just one stupid injury away from getting nothing and packing boxes in some grocery store. He probably saw those examples, with former teammates from college and/or Low A over those 9 years since he was drafted before signing away his arbitration years. With 16M, you can retire if you live reasonably and refuse the bling. Remember, him hitting the 10-year-service time for being pension eligible is very unlikely when starting your career at 28.). Not everyone can be like Rex Hudler.

After he probably should have gotten the Gold Glove at 2B last season, they move him to RF again, where he (I am sorry to say it) sucks, in order for someone who has gotten every chance to shine in those same 6 years, but did not deliver, being handed the SS job (Mondesi’s Career-Stats: AB 1223 BA .249, OBP .283, OPS+ 85 (for God's Sake, Ryan O´Hearn has a higher career OBP (.294)and the same OPS+!!!)).

Yes, I see Mondesi´s potential, too, but after 6 years when something quacks like a duck, start believing it is a duck. Still, showing him this favoritism is very disrespectful towards Whit (and Nicky)! Some might call it loyalty, but where is the loyalty towards Whit?

And because Whit is playing out of position, he is blocking the possible future outfielders. I would love to find out if one of them or both are the future for the Royals.

Me, I love Olivares. He does have an outfield assist rate of .119 (!) in the Minors for RF (236 games) and .097 in CF (252 games), while hitting .313, OBP of .397, and an OPS of .956 last year in Omaha. He deserves an extended look and not this constant up and down from last year. So does Isbel. But Whit is playing every day, at least he has for the last 3 years.

I should say Moore/Piccolo/Matheny are blocking them, not Whit.

Whit does what does. He plays the best he can, no matter the position. That’s why we, the fans, love him. And that's why the favoritism towards Mondesi and the disrespect towards Whit hurts even more.

Go Royals!

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.