April 21, 2024

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Phillies and Whit Merrifield agree to one-year deal

Phillies and Whit Merrifield agree to one-year deal

The Phillies are reportedly in agreement with an infielder/outfielder Wyatt Merrifield On a one-year contract worth $8 million. That takes the form of a $7 million salary this year and a $1 million buyout on an $8 million club option for 2025. There are also bonuses for a Warner Sports Management client that could bring the full value to $16.6 million over two years.

Merrifield, 35, reached free agency late, due to being a late bloomer and signing an extension with the Royals. He made his league debut in 2016 at the age of 27 and only really established himself the following year, at the age of 28.

From 2017 to 2020, Merrifield was solidly above average at the plate and in other areas as well. He only walked 6.3% of his plate appearances but was limited to 15.4% of his strikeouts. His .297/.345/.452 batting line at the time reached a wRC+ of 111, or 11% better than the league average. He also stole 111 bases in that time while providing quality defense at second base and all three outfield positions.

In the midst of that extension, Merrifield signed a four-year, $16.25 million extension with the Royals, with a club option also included in the deal. He didn't have much leverage since his late bloomer status meant he wasn't scheduled to hit free agency until after his age-33 season. This extension allowed him to get some decent money while forgoing his age 34 season via this club option. The Royals will later exercise that option in advance, as part of a restructuring of his deal in early 2022.

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The past three seasons have seen Merrifield's production decline, a period of time that saw him traded to the Blue Jays midway through. Since the start of the 2021 campaign, his walk and strikeout rates have remained low as he has hit .269/.313/.392 for a wRC+ of 92. He has added 94 more steals but his defensive metrics have taken a step back. On the field, both defensive runs saved and above-average outs considered him subpar in those recent years. OAA still likes his job at second base, while DRS gave him a +14 in the bullpen in 2021 but negative numbers the last two years.

Entering the offseason, MLBTR projects Merrifield will make $18 million over two years. This contract takes almost the same form but only half is guaranteed, the second half depending on whether this option is chosen or not.

For the Phillies, Merrifield will likely serve as a bench/utility piece, though he could see fairly regular playing time. The club has Bryson Stott At second base, even though he is a left-handed hitter. Merrifield is a right-hander who has had modest traditional bullpen splits in his career: a .289/.335/.458 batting line and a 111 wRC+ against lefties compared to a .282/.328/.407 line and a 97 wRC+ the rest of the time. Stott already has reverse splits overall but was even more so in 2023.

On the field with Bryce Harper Now firmly established at first base and Kyle Schwarber It's as likely to be an everyday player as the designated hitter who leaves Nick Castellanos As a daily option in right field and Johan Rojas in the center. There is some uncertainty with Brandon Marsh On the left, he recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. The Phils are still hopeful he will be ready for opening day but it will be tight. He also bats left-handed and has had solid platoon splits in his career, with a .272/.347/.438 line and a 115 wRC+ against righties but a .223/.278/.312 and 63 wRC+ line against southpaws.

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If Marsh misses time, the options available to replace him were not very inspiring. no Christian Bash no Jake Cave They have achieved a lot in their big league career. It looks like Merrifield could see some time on the field, either covering Marsh or joining him when he gets healthy. He can also cover second at times if Bryson Stott He needs a break. He has a little experience in the corners of the pitch so maybe he can spell either Harper or Alec Boom From time to time, in addition to acting as a runner if not in the starting lineup. After Marsh's injury, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski downplayed the club's likelihood of getting help in the outfield because they didn't really have the playing time to offer, but Merrifield's versatility makes him a better fit than a traditional outfielder.

The move brings Philadelphia's payroll to $246 million per employee List resources. That's a little north of last year's opening day number of $243 Cradle Baseball Contracts. RR's competitive balance tax is $261 million, above the second tax tier of $257 million. They also finished last year between the second and third tax tier. Going beyond the third line, $277 million, would require the club to move its top 2025 pick down 10 spots.

John Morosi to MLB.com First tied both sides at $8 million guaranteed and first got a $1 million buyout. Ken Rosenthal to The athlete The 2025 option and details have been conveyed for the first time.

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