The AL East has been a bloodbath during the 2022 MLB season with all five teams in the division over .500 a day after the trade deadline. The New York Yankees are leading the pack with the best record in the American League, but the Toronto Blue Jays are hanging tough in second place with a record with that would be good enough to lead two divisions across baseball.
The Blue Jays attempted to load up at the trade deadline with multiple acquisitions. Their biggest addition was Whit Merrifield, the 33-year-old second baseman they acquired from the Royals for pitcher Max Castillo and infielder Samad Taylor. Merrifield has a wonderful resume: he led baseball in hits in 2018 and 2019, he’s led the league in steals three different times, and he has a reputation as a solid defender. While he’s struggled at the plate this year with a .240/.290/.352 slash line, adding Merrifield is the type of move Toronto needed to potentially make a deep playoff run.
There’s only one problem. Merrifield is not vaccinated against Covid, and Canada requires everyone who enters the country to be vaccinated. To this point, Merrifield still hasn’t indicated he’ll get vaccinated so he can play in home games. The Blue Jays said the organization will leave the decision up to him.
As for Whit Merrifield, John Schneider says, “nothing new,” re vax status. “Obviously we know he wasn’t there in Toronto, but totally up to him. 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.”
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 3, 2022
When the Royals played the Blue Jays in Toronto last month, Merrifield was one of 10 players on the team not to travel with the club because he wasn’t vaccinated. Merrifield did previously say he would consider getting vaccinated if it meant he could play in the playoffs. The Blue Jays are currently in postseason position by leading the Wild Card race.
Would the Blue Jays really trade for Merrifield — and give up a good arm in Castillo to do it — without knowing if he’d get vaccinated? Multiple insiders hinted at the time of the deal that Merrifield must have changed his mind. It doesn’t sound like it so far.
Merrifield only needs to look to Andrew Wiggins to see an example of an athlete getting the vaccine and thriving. Wiggins was initially hesitant to get the required vaccine to play for the Golden State Warriors last season. He eventually got it, and played a critical role in the Warriors’ run to the 2022 NBA championship.
Is Whit Merrifield next? Step one is getting the vaccine. He’s definitely not going to be part of a playoff run in Toronto without getting that far.