Royals unlikely to deal Merrifield at Deadline
Moore also squelches trade speculation surrounding Gordon
KANSAS CITY -- Last July, as rumors persistently circulated that the Royals might trade super utilityman Whit Merrifield, general manager Dayton Moore finally put an end to the talk.
“We need [Merrifield] in our city and on our team,” Moore said then.
And just prior to the Winter Meetings, Moore said, “We've pretty much made it clear [to other general managers], we want Whit Merrifield to be part of our team.”
Now, with the Trade Deadline less than six weeks away, once more Merrifield’s name is being tossed about by national observers as a possible trade chip.
But just like Moore once said about catcher Salvador Perez, the Royals do not envision any scenario in which they would trade Merrifield.
“I’m still the same on that,” Moore told MLB.com on Thursday. “It’s our job to do our due diligence with any proposal and listen. But we’re motivated to keeping our good players here.”
In January, the Royals signed Merrifield to a four-year, $16.25 million deal, wiping out his remaining arbitration years.
There also has been some speculation that left fielder Alex Gordon, in the final year of his four-year, $72 million deal, could be a hot name around the Deadline. Gordon, though, likely squelched that talk when he told MLB.com last month that he had no intention of playing anywhere else. As a 10-5 player, Gordon can veto any deal anyway.
Moore didn’t seem too interested in even pondering the thought of Gordon playing elsewhere.
“I couldn’t imagine Alex Gordon in another uniform,” Moore said.
The Royals, though, are listening to potential offers on their other players with expiring contracts, and will do so through July 31. Here’s a look at them:
• Left-hander Jake Diekman: There is interest out there in Diekman, who can hit 97-98 mph with a swing-and-miss slider. But word is contenders are viewing him as mostly a sixth or seventh-inning guy, which would limit his return. Diekman’s high walk rate (5.1/9) is a concern.
• Catcher Martin Maldonado: Royals pitchers rave about Maldonado’s defense and handling. And a recent adjustment with his hand placement in his batting stance has delivered positive results -- .368 average over his last five games with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs entering Thursday. But it likely will take an injury elsewhere to boost Maldonado’s value for a contender.
• Right-hander Homer Bailey: One scout recently said that Bailey could be the perfect two-month rental for a postseason contender -- an experienced starter who is essentially free (the Dodgers are paying almost his entire salary) and who is having somewhat of a career rebirth lately. Bailey has thrown 16 2/3 straight scoreless innings.
• Center fielder Billy Hamilton: He could be a nice addition for a contender looking for speed and defense off the bench.
• Right-hander Brad Boxberger: The reliever had a solid 10-game run (1.08 ERA) until the wheels came off in Minnesota on Sunday (four batters faced, four batters reached).
• Right-hander Wily Peralta: He has turned it around of late -- 0.77 ERA over last 12 outings. Potential as a setup man for a contender.
• Outfielder/pinch-runner Terrance Gore: It will probably be too tough for a contender to reserve a 25-man spot for Gore, despite his elite speed, but you never know.
• First baseman Lucas Duda: The Royals couldn’t move Duda until a late-August waiver trade last season. That’s not even an option this season.