According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Kansas City Royals and second baseman Whit Merrifield have agreed upon a four-year contract extension that is said to be worth around $15 million.
All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield and the Kansas City Royals have a four-year deal that will land in the $15 million range, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN. Press conference to announce it could come as soon as tomorrow. @jonmorosi first said it was close.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 28, 2019
As Passan notes, the deal will buy out Merrifield’s final pre-arbitration year and three seasons of arbitration. He is now receiving guaranteed money after a breakout 2018 season.
The Royals are ultimately rewarding Merrifield are he enjoyed a tremendous season last year, in which he finished seventeenth in American League MVP voting. Over 158 games, he hit an impressive .304/.367/.438 with 43 doubles and 12 home runs. He also led the league with 192 hits and 45 stolen bases.
Merrifield, a 2010 ninth-round pick, spent the first seven years of his professional career in the minor leagues. He was never highly regarded as a top prospect. However, he made his big league debut in 2016 at 27-years old and took the league by storm.
Since then, Merrifield has transformed himself into one of the premier middle infield options in the game today. Each of the three years he’s been in the league he has ultimately outperformed himself. Though he had a down year in the power department last season, Merrifield brings a nice combo of speed and pop to the rather weak hitting Royals lineup.
A Vote of Confidence
Over the past couple of seasons, Kansas City has been one of the worst teams in the league. After a rather quiet offseason, they figure to be towards there bottom half of the league again.
Even so, they have continued to turn away all trade interest in Merrifield. They could look to trade him still, but this weekend Kansas City showed their confidence in their rising star by extending him to a longterm deal.