The Kansas City Royals reportedly have walked away from trade offers for Whit Merrifield and plan to keep the do-everything star through the July 31 deadline.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported the Royals have rebuffed interest from several teams, including the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. However, the team reportedly is gearing up to trade reliever Jake Diekman, who has drawn interest for teams in need of a left-handed arm.
Merrifield, 30, is under team control through the 2023 season. The late bloomer has continued his ascent this season, posting a .306/.357/.495 slash with 12 home runs and 51 runs batted in. While his steal numbers are down, Merrifield is bordering on a pace that would give him his first 20-20 season.
"I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel," Merrifield said of his struggles to get called up, per Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star. "I didn't feel like my opportunity was ever going to come. I didn't feel like the team valued me. I felt like there were plenty of chances for me to get called up, and I didn't. I know the business of baseball. I know how it works. I know there's certain reasons why certain guys got called up, but there was also times when guys got called up in the same situation as myself that I felt like I was better than. I didn't know why it wasn't me."
Merrifield's bargain contract will pay him only $21 million over the next four seasons, giving the Royals little incentive to move on. They reportedly set an "extraordinarily high" price tag in negotiations.
Diekman will not bring back nearly the same haul. The flame-throwing lefty is 0-6 on the season, posting a 4.75 ERA and 1.34 WHIP but has been performing better of late. He's given up only one run over his last six appearances, and teams will be attracted to his 63 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.