KC Royals pull last-minute stunner from MLB trade deadline

Do you remember the stunning announcement by the KC Royals just before the all-star break, when they revealed that 10 unvaccinated players could not make the club’s trip to Toronto because Canada was refusing entry to unvaccinated vaccinated?

Do you remember that one of those players was Whit Merrifield?

Well, Kansas City surprised baseball yet again just before the MLB trade deadline expired late Tuesday afternoon, not because of who they traded, but to whom they traded it.

They sold Merrifield to Toronto.

How Royals fans react remains to be seen, but it won’t be long to find out. After all, and as reported at the time by from SI.com Stephanie Apstein, Merrifield, suggested shortly after the Royals announced the loss of 10 players for the trip to Toronto that he would consider getting a shot if he ended up playing for a contender:

“The only reason I would think of getting [the vaccine] at this point is to go to Canada. That could change down the road. Something happens and I happen to be part of a team that has the chance to go and play in Canada in the playoffs, maybe that changes. But as we sit here right now, I’m comfortable with my decision.

Royals fans are bound to have a long memory on this one. Now there is no chance he will play in Toronto, that’s for sure. Merrifield had to assure the Blue Jays that he was going to vaccinate, or has already done so. There’s likely no other way for Toronto to close the deal…unless, of course, the Canadian government grants them an exception, and that’s unlikely.

So expect a mixed reaction from fans, especially as Merrifield finishes his tenure at the KC with a .286 ERA, led the majors in hits twice and stole baes once, and played everywhere the managers Ned Yost and Mike Matheny needed him.

The KC Royals got 2 players for Whit Merrifield and traded Cam Gallagher.

In exchange for Merrifield, Kansas City gets minor leaguer Samad Taylor, who MLB pipeline ranked Toronto’s 16th-best prospect before the trade, and Max Castillo. Taylor played three positions in the infield and each in the outfield and was hitting .258 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs in 70 games for Triple-A Buffalo. Castillo, a right-hander who starts but sometimes relieves, was a combined 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A.

Another exchange at the end of the afternoon (Twitter link) sent veteran pinch receiver Cam Gallagher to San Diego for outfielder Brent Rooker. In 67 major league games split between Minnesota and the Padres, he’s averaging .205 and hit nine homers in 58 games for the Twins last year. Gallagher, a valuable replacement for Salvador Perez, hit .240 in parts of six Kansas City seasons.

What else did KC do during this trading period?

Neal T. Doss