KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whit Merrifield is headed to Canada.
The Kansas City Royals have traded the second baseman to the Toronto Blue Jays, the team confirmed. In return, the Royals will receive prospect Samad Taylor and pitcher Max Castillo.
Taylor has been assigned to AAA Omaha, and Castillo has been added to the Royals’ 40-man roster and optioned to Omaha.
It’s just the latest of several moves for the Royals, and it comes right before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Merrifield played in a franchise-record 553 straight games before missing a game in July with a toe injury. The Royals drafted Merrifield in the 9th round of the 2010 draft, and he amassed 1,001 hits, including 74 home runs, during seven seasons in Kansas City.
But the two-time All Star made headlines last month after missing the Royals’ away series vs. the Blue Jays because he and nine other Kansas City players were not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Immediately after the news broke, he said he may have gotten vaccinated if he were on a team headed to the postseason. Merrifield quickly received a wave of backlash across sports media and online.
A few days later, the longtime Royals player took to 610 Sports Radio to clarify his comments.
“What really kept me up last night was people thinking I don’t love Kansas City and I haven’t really loved every minute that I’ve been in Kansas City. That I don’t love my teammates and I don’t want to fight for my teammates,” Merrifield told Cody & Gold.
“I’ve been with this organization for 12 years. The front office has been the same my entire career, they’re like family to me. The community is greatly important to me, and for my words to reflect anything besides that is something that is not okay, and I really felt like I needed to clarify it.”
Merrifield said his decision to not get vaccinated for COVID-19 was a personal one, and his comments were based on the “business of baseball” as he had been involved in a few trade rumors.
“The vaccine thing has been a very fluid decision making for me. I’m not like a hardline no vaccine. I’ve always been one, and our trainers will attest to that, when they give me Advil and Tylenol for a bruise, I’ve always been one to resist it,” Merrifield said.
“I don’t really enjoy putting foreign things in my body. It’s not something that I’ve ever done. I’ve been very fortunate that I can count on one hand how many times I can ever remember being sick.”
But he added that it was never a slight at his teammates and the current state of the team, who sit in fourth place in their division.
“What I was trying to say is if I had the opportunity to get to the postseason, that would be something that might sway my views on potentially getting that vaccine. I would love for it to be with the group of guys we have in this clubhouse, but I also understand the business of baseball. I understand that while I’d love to be a Royal my entire career, that might not happen.”
Now Merrifield might actually have to make a decision on getting vaccinated.
The Blue Jays are right in the middle of the American League playoff race and are on track to make the postseason.
And as the only MLB team located in Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays have tough constraints. Foreign nationals who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are not allowed to enter Canada, save for limited exceptions that require a 14-day quarantine.
Unvaccinated players are placed on the restricted list, where they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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