The Chicago White Sox’s fascination with the Kansas City Royals’ blueprint of mediocrity is expected to continue this off-season.
The leading voices in the White Sox’s baseball operations, general manager Chris Getz and manager Pedo Grifol, were from the Royals’ organization and the team signed former Royals’ outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the largest deal in franchise history last off-season.
It would seem that the White Sox are hopeful that some of Benintendi’s former teammates will join him on the south side.
News broke today that the Toronto Blue Jays have declined Merrifield’s $18MM option for the 2024 season. While there has been speculation that the Blue Jays may be interested in bringing Merrifield back, the former Royals’ infielder is now a free agent and the Chicago White Sox will have interest.
The Chicago White Sox appear to be aiming toward a pursuit of free agent infielder Whit Merrifield.
Merrifield has had below-average offensive seasons in each of the past three years and despite a hot start to the 2023 season, Merrifield finished the year with a slash line of .272/.318/.382 with a 93 wRC+.
There is no question that Merrifield would be an upgrade for the White Sox at the second base position but this is not a move that the team should be making. Merrifield will be 35 at the start of next season and rather than give second base to an aging veteran in a season that will undoubtedly be a rebuild, the White Sox would be better off giving one of their infield prospects such as Lenyn Sosa extended runway at the position.
The White Sox’s interest in Merrifield appears to be tied to a dated philosophy of signing veterans to stopgap deals to give the false impression that the team wants to contend for an upcoming season. Sure, that philosophy won the team a World Series in 2005 but the year is 2023 and the White Sox have become one of the embarrassments of Major League Baseball.