The Royals announced they have restructured the contract of Whit Merrifield, picking up his club option for 2023 and adding a mutual option for 2024. According to Anne Rogers, Merrifield’s 2022 salary increases from $2.75 million to $7 million. His 2023 salary will be $2.75 million with $4 million in salary escalators when it was originally going to be a $6.5 club option. His mutual option in 2024 will be $18 million with a $500,000 buyout.
The 33-year old Merrifield made his second All-Star team last year, hitting .277/.317/.395 setting a league-high in doubles with 42 and steals with 40. He has been one of the most durable players in baseball, missing just four games in the last four seasons. His OPS has declined in each of the last two seasons, but he was still a 3.6 rWAR player last year. Merrifield is expected to start in right field this year, although he could also see some time at second base.
The restructuring essentially moves guaranteed money from 2023 to 2022 to provide more flexibility in 2023. This could be made in anticipation of other deals in the works. There have been some rumors of a long-term deal for Bobby Witt Jr. and the Royals have two unsigned arbitration-eligible players they may be working on long-term deals with in Andrew Benintendi and Nicky Lopez.