We are not in the middle of the hot stove season yet. In fact, it's just pre-heating. But as every baseball fan knows, it does not take a long time to burn.
Baseball fans have been watching this class for a while now. Even without the shine he once seemed to have, this free-crop harvest is probably the best ever.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are expected to receive both $ 300 million worth of transactions. Craig Kimbrel was able to set the record for the largest order of a relief spice. Josh Donaldson is an appealing name for a team that wants to avoid long-term acquisitions. Starting pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin could support any rotation.
None of them will be Royals.
If anything, the hot stove for the home team looks rather lukewarm. Most in the baseball sector believe they will follow a similar approach as last year: Sign relatively affordable players for one-year deals and try to place them on a deadline by the deadline to pay a team member who is prepared to pay a talent award.
But why not start selling now?
In the case of a majority of players, it is simply that the players who could be moved do not make a return that is worth the trade. There is at least one notable exception: Whit Merrifield.
Kansas City Royals' Whit Merrifield # 15 wins a game that wins twice against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth inning of Kauffman Stadium on June 23, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. The royals won 5-4. (Photo by Ed Zurga / Getty Images)
The second baseman of the Royals improved the already successful year 2017 by leading the American League in hits and stolen bases. His 5.5-year war (Wins Above Replacement) was good enough to be in the top 25 of all major leagues, before notable players like Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve and Matt Carpenter.
It seems that if there is a case in which a player should move, it is whit. There are strong arguments to hold him. I have four reasons that the Royals should consider.
Why should the Royals whit Merrifield act?
1. He can fill the brochure pool.
Since the royals will not play a role again in 2019, it might be time to consider setting up these royals as of 2014/15. A group of players coming from the farm flourished at the same time. The Royals organization is not as deep as it was a decade ago, but trading with Merrifield could go a long way.
In 2016, the Chicago White Sox exchanged Adam Eaton, a low-season player with a team-friendly contract, at the Washington Nationals for three, including two in the top 40.
Teams have become increasingly reluctant to delay the outlook, but for Merrifield – who can not become a free agent by 2023 – the Royals should expect at least a return of two top 100 players plus one or two young flyers.
Partnering with Nick Pratto, Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and the second overall standings in 2019 (plus a likely top 5 pick in 2020), the farm is suddenly back in strength.
2. He is not getting younger.
Although Merrifield was only three seasons in the majors, it is fast approaching the wrong end of the aging curve. On the opening day of 2019 he will be 30 years old.
I do not expect his production to fall off immediately, but the years of decline are approaching and he may not be a useful player at all in the Royals' next competition.
Kansas City Royals' Whit Merrifield # 15 runs into third place during the first innings against the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium on July 16, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Davidson / Getty Images)
3. It is a chance to maximize the return.
To be honest, when Merrifield crashes on Earth in 2019, this probably has little bearing on the record win-loss record of this upcoming season. This would significantly affect the return on investment.
Teams are more often not burnt too early with players, but by sticking too late to others. I'm not saying that Merrifield can not repeat its 2018 season, but its value will not go up if that's the case.
4. He could diversify some competitors.
Obviously, Merrifield has value for every team, but it certainly does not fit the model of the ball player 2018. It's an era that's mostly focused on the starting angle. Merrifield is more the setback hitter.
At a time when players sell out for home races and teams accept picket picks in exchange, there may be some organizations looking for that table-topper who can turn a solo shot into a two-part homer (and even enter some of them).)
Why the Royals Whit Merrifield should not act
1. The Royals seem to have no interest in a long conversion.
The trade of Mike Moustakas in July should have indicated. They could have sought a deal for lower-capped players with higher caps, but instead they took a deal for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez, two upstairs players who had already appeared for Kansas City.
If the team believes it can compete in the next two or three years, trading with Merrifield is a setback.
2. Sellers are looking elsewhere.
It's hard to imagine a lower class than this, and it starts with Harper and Machado, Hall of Fame quality players, who come to a free agency during their prime.
Apart from them, the top of the class is deep and it's not even about the trading market, where teams like the Mariners and Diamondbacks signal the readiness to rebuild.
Imagine Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke, Jean Segura and James Paxton along with the Free Agent class. There is simply no shortage of good players.
3. There are many second basemen to choose from.
The 2018 class is not only deep, but especially in the primary position of Merrifield. What he lacks in upper talent makes up for it in quality.
There are arguments that Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy, D.J. Lemahieu, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera could be better suited for a particular team than Merrifield.
There can not be enough differences for teams to abandon the prospects for Merrifield when the other players are simply spending money.
4. The return could be disappointing.
I've already said that Merrifield is a player with many cost-controlled years, but I've also mentioned that he'll turn 30 on opening day. Other teams know that too.
Although he has been prolific in his short time in the big leagues, teams may be skeptical about giving up a fortune on a low-performing player who is already approaching the wrong side of his career.
I think the Royals will be listening to Merrifield's offers, but it will eventually be on the list in early 2019. It would be an incredible offer to move away from him.
Optimizing assets for Merrifield has an obvious value. However, his team control is still long enough not to have to move immediately.