As always, it depends on the price.
Financially speaking, and because that seems to be the main thing teams care about now, the Cubs trading for second baseman Whit Merrifield wouldn’t be much of a risk at all. Last year he signed a four-year extension worth $16.25 million with the Royals. That was after he had a career year in 2018, when he had a 5.2 fWAR.
Seems like a great fit for the Cubs. They wouldn’t feel pressured to rush Nico Hoerner along at second, while immediately taking care of the leadoff spot that has been troublesome for the Cubs since 2016.
Merrifield, who will be 31 in 2020, is known more for his contact skills and speed rather his power, would definitely be an upgrade at second base for the Cubs. However, would he really be worth the cost?
The Cubs are obviously considering a lot of things this offseason and according to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales, a trade for Merrifield is near the top of their priority list.
Via the Chicago Tribune.
“[Whit] Merrifield will be a priority this winter, and there’s a match with the Royals involving a combination of an outfielder and infielder.”
To be clear, I have no clue what Kansas City’s asking price for Merrifield is this offseason, but during this past trade deadline they were reportedly asking for three MLB-ready players. You’d think the Royals would begin any talks by asking for Hoerner, the Cubs first round pick in 2018.
While Merrifield’s contract is cheap, it’s also the reason the Royals are going to ask for a big return in players.
Again, he’ll be 31 in 2020, and his base running has already began to dip after his career year in 2018. By the way, Merrifield has a career .344 OBP since making his MLB debut in 2016. Not exactly screaming a guaranteed success story at leadoff for the Cubs.
I mean, David Bote has a .346 OPB in two MLB seasons. Ian Happ is at .340 for his career and here’s a reminder that Jason Heyward had a .343 OBP in 2019. But of course, getting Merrifield is more than just looking at his OBP, it would change the dynamic of the Cubs lineup and give them a legit threat on the bases and that contact rate sure is what the Cubs are looking to add to their roster.
Hey, the Cubs should definitely kick the tires on a trade for Whit, but there’s a reason to be cautious on how much they give up if they do get him.