Ask any Toronto Blue Jays fan how they felt about the trade deadline, and they will most likely tell you the team did not do enough. Fans were hoping the front office would be able to add a strikeout bullpen arm, a starting pitcher, and a lefty-bat to compliment the established core of young superstars and veteran players.
The overall haul for the Blue Jays saw the club add two bullpen arms from the Miami Marlins in Anthony Bass and Zach Pop, while the club brought in a Ross Stripling clone in Mitch White, a right-hander with the Los Angeles Dodgers who can float between the rotation and the bullpen as needed. The Jays did not bring in a left-handed bat but instead traded for Royals utility player Whit Merrifield, a player who always seemed to have his name mentioned at the trade deadline over the past few seasons.
Blue Jays and the Vaccination Status
At first, the move was a bit puzzling, mostly because Merrifield mostly played at second base and the Blue Jays feature two players at the position in Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio. Secondly, when the Royals made the trip North just before the All-Star break, Merrifield stayed behind because he was unvaccinated and would be subject to both Canadian and American entry guidelines. Not the type of move many thought the Jays would be making.
Fast forward to after the deadline and not only is Merrifield apparently vaccinated now, and supposedly done so without having to quarantine when the Jays return to Canada on Friday, August 12th, but he has turned into a key player for the club with George Springer finding himself on the IL.
While he was having a somewhat down season with the Royals, Merrifield continues to find himself in the Jays lineup and is hitting well, owning a .286/.318/.286 slash line with a .604 OPS through 21 at-bats. He has struck out a fair bit, eight times compared to one walk, but his speed is already helping the club both defensively and on the base paths.
In Minnesota, the righty-batter had a solid series in center field, making defensive plays that made him look like a veteran at the position. He also stole a base and was the deciding run in a thriller of a Sunday game, sliding into home plate and causing a kerfuffle at home when Twins catcher Gary Sanchez was covering home plate, resulting in Merrifield scoring and the Jays winning in extras.
The move seemed a bit out of place given the vaccination status and the fact he is a righty-batter, adding to the core that already boasts a lot of right-handed power. However, given he has some added years of control and can play numerous positions, the Jays are already reaping the benefits of the former hit king.
If he can reel in the strikeouts and find the same swing that got him the most hits in 2019, the Blue Jays lineup just got a bit deadlier as the season continues on towards the postseason.