4. Whit Merrifield
Per MLB insider Jon Heyman, the Dodgers have looked into Royals utility man Whit Merrifield. Perfect timing or … worst possible timing?
Merrifield is on pace to put together the worst season of his career. He’s lagging behind in every major statistic, most notably his stolen bases (14 in 87 games) after leading the league in that category three times since 2017. The veteran is hitting just .245 with a .646 OPS, 82 OPS+, 47 runs scored, 5 homers and 39 RBI in 2022.
It’s potential good timing because the Dodgers could buy low if the Royals are willing to part. It’s potential bad timing because if Merrifield can’t turn it around, then this would be a wasted acquisition.
Then again, his versatility is where he’s most valuable. He’s played second base, right field and center field this year and has played plenty of left field in the past. Per Statcast, he ranked in the 84th percentile for sprint speed, 63rd percentile for outs above average, and 75th percentile for outfielder jump. He also almost never strikes out (86th percentile for K%) and has perhaps been getting a bit unlucky so far (71st percentile for expected batting average).
Merrifield also comes controllable through at least 2023 (he has an $18 million mutual option for 2024), but will make just a $2.75 million base in 2023 with $4 million in incentives. Those will be his age-34 and -35 seasons, so perhaps the Royals are willing to move off of him to make room for some more young talent while also getting a return/shedding some salary while they continue to stink.