Phillies Rumors: The Whit Merrifield to Philly buzz keeps growing

Some around Major League Baseball have connected the Phillies as a possible destination for Whit Merrifield to sign for the 2024 season.
The Philadelphia Phillies keep getting linked to free agent Whit Merrifield
The Philadelphia Phillies keep getting linked to free agent Whit Merrifield / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

As spring training workouts have begun, the Philadelphia Phillies have yet to make a significant splash in free agency since re-signing Aaron Nola to a seven-year deal in November. This has caused some frustration among the fans, but the fact of the matter is, is that there were no major, glaring holes to fill this offseason.

That has not stopped some writers and personalities around baseball from suggesting that the club has pockets too deep to stand by idly for long. This is not the first time, but The Athletic's Jim Bowden has connected the Phillies and 35-year-old free agent Whit Merrifield (subscription required) as a potential match heading into the 2024 campaign.

The Phillies don't necessarily need to make a big signing prior to the start of the season. However, some smaller role-player-type moves could be on the Phillies' radar.

Would signing Whit Merrifield be beneficial to the Phillies?

Merrifield has spent most of his eight seasons as a Kansas City Royal. Most recently, he played the last two seasons in Toronto with the Blue Jays. The biggest asset that Merrifield brings to a club is his defensive versatility.

The utility man has most notably played second base and left field in recent years but has made appearances in each of the three outfield positions and every infield position except shortstop. That level of flexibility could be useful to get some of the everyday players rest.

Another positive part of Merrifield's game is his contact rate and low strikeout percentage. Over parts of eight seasons in the majors, he has a strikeout percentage of 15.9 percent. The league average is 22.4 percent. While he won't hit for much power or draw a ton of walks, the veteran player can make contact and avoid going down on strikes — an issue that has plagued the current Phillies roster.

While he can play almost all over the field, the Phillies should be cautious of his offensive production. Merrifield was an All-Star last year for the Blue Jays after a stellar first half, but struggled in the final months of the season. On July 31, the All-Star was hitting .303; he finished the season hitting .272 — posting a .232 average in August and a .194 average in September.

Merrifield's best seasons were 2018 and 2019, and his best playing days are likely behind him. Should Merrifield be content with being a role player and not having a guaranteed starting role, he could potentially be a solid addition to the club.

According to Spotrac, Merrifield's projected market value is around $6.4 million for the upcoming season. As things stand the Phillies are already projected to be above the first luxury tax threshold. It will be interesting to see if they think it's worth adding a player like Merrifield or if they will wait until the trade deadline to address roster needs.