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Blue Jays' Whit Merrifield Vaccinated, Able to Join Team After Trade From Royals

Erin WalshAugust 4, 2022

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Whit Merrifield can play for the Toronto Blue Jays when they open their homestand next Friday as he's fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he told reporters Thursday.

If the second baseman did not get vaccinated, he wouldn't have been eligible to participate in Toronto's home games because of Canada's vaccine requirements.

The Kansas City Royals sent Merrifield to the Blue Jays ahead of MLB's trade deadline Tuesday in exchange for right-hander Max Castillo and minor league infielder Samad Taylor.

Merrifield joined the Blue Jays on Thursday ahead of their four-game series against the Minnesota Twins. He is in Thursday's lineup, batting eighth and playing center field, per Mike Wilner of the Toronto Star.

The 33-year-old told reporters last month that he would consider getting vaccinated if it meant playing for a team that could face Toronto in the playoffs.

"I understand what Canada has in place right now. That’s the only reason that I would think about getting it at this point is to go to Canada. That might change down the road. Something happens, and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes."

However, Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider told reporters Wednesday that the team would not require the veteran to get the shot.

"Obviously we know he wasn’t there in Toronto, but totally up to him," Schneider said. "And I’m sure that he’s had conversations with his family and other people. So, you know, we’re leaving that decision up to him."

Merrifield is having a down season, hitting .240/.290/.352 with six home runs, 42 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 95 games. However, he's a nice depth addition for the Blue Jays, who will likely use his versatility to play him both at second base and in the outfield.

Merrifield spent the first six-plus seasons of his career with the Royals, earning two All-Star selections. He agreed to a four-year extension in 2019 and is under contract through the 2023 season with a mutual option for 2024, per Spotrac.

Toronto enters Thursday's game against the Twins second in the AL East with a 58-46 record, 11 games behind the New York Yankees. The club has a three-game lead in the wild-card race.

The Blue Jays have a 97 percent chance to make the playoffs, per FanGraphs.

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