Phillies Land 3-Time All-Star on $8 Million Deal

Whit Merrifield

Getty Whit Merrifield

Spring training is underway and another free agent is off the market. On February 16, utility player Whit Merrifield agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, bolstering the Phillies’ roster before Opening Day on March 28.

The Phillies will be the third team of Merrifield’s MLB career, with the 35-year-old having already played for the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays since his debut in 2016.

In 2023 with the Blue Jays, Merrifield slashed .272/.318/.382 with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs, earning his third All-Star selection. It was his first full season in Toronto, having been acquired from Kansas City at the 2022 trade deadline.

In his seven seasons with the Royals, Merrifield slashed .286/.332/.425, twice leading the AL in hits (2018, 2019) and three times in stolen bases (2017, 2018, 2021). He posted at least three wins above replacement in each season from 2017 to 2021, excluding the shortened 2020 season.

Inside Whit Merrifield’s Deal With the Phillies

On February 16, Merrifield and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal with a club option for the 2025 season, according to Rosenthal. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi elaborated that the contract includes a $7 million base salary for the 2024 season, with an $8 million club option or $1 million buyout for 2025, plus a bonus and awards package.

With all included bonuses, Merrifield can max out his deal at $16.6 million over two seasons.

The deal is worth more than many expected, with Sportrac projecting Merrifield to sign a two-year, $12.9 million deal out of free agency this winter. Tim Dierkes, Anthony Franco, and Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors were more optimistic at the start of the offseason, predicting the super-utility man would land a two-year, $18 million contract.

World Series Contention for 2024 Phillies

After their second-place finish to the Houston Astros in 2022, the Phillies had a season of ups-and-downs in 2023, eventually bouncing back to advance to the NL Championship Series before being eliminated by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With a clear goal to return to the World Series in 2024, adding Merrifield to the roster is a step in the right direction, even if he is largely used as a bench option.

On February 13, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden noted Merrifield’s potential to be a “10th player” for Philadelphia.

“I’ve felt all offseason his best landing spot would be with Philadelphia, where he could be the ’10th player,’ filling it at second base and in left field, with the ability to also play some third base, center field, right field and DH,” Bowden wrote. “He would help protect the Phillies from injuries, like the minor knee issue that has sidelined left fielder Brandon Marsh.”

As Bowden mentioned, Merrifield has major-league experience across a large range of positions, having recorded 5826 career innings at second base, 1287 in right field, 835 in left field, 652 in center field, 97 at first base, and 31 at third base. Not only could he step into almost any position on defense, but Merrifield is also a reliable presence at the plate, adding to the Phillies’ already-strong batting lineup.

The Phillies are going into the 2024 season with big ambitions. Merrifield may just be the “10th player” difference-maker they need to advance to their second World Series appearance in three years.

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