Saturday, March 2, 2024

Whit Merrifield’s Praise For Chris Getz Fuels White Sox Speculation


The White Sox have been linked to free-agent infielder Whit Merrifield since the start of the offseason. Merrifiled’s recent comments about White Sox general manager Chris Getz during the Winter Meetings have added smoke to the fire. 

Back in October 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reported that the White Sox had discussed the possibility of trying to acquire Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Merrifield. 

Merrifield recently spoke with NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfein at the Winter Meetings and had high praise for Getz. 

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“I love seeing players now getting in those roles. Getting guys like Getz and CY (Chris Young). It’s important that we get players back in this game to get baseball back on track in my opinion,” Merrifield told Garfein. “I think the analytical wave hit hard. I think we’re starting to correct ourselves as a game which I think is important. I think there’s a place in this game for analytics. At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s the end all be all. Having players back in these kinds of roles to make baseball decisions is huge. And I think Getzy is as good as anybody and he’ll do a good job doing that. The South Side’s got a good one.” 

Garfein added that Merrifield said he has spoken to “several” teams but would not say if the White Sox were one of them.

Merrifield has plenty of White Sox connections. He was teammates with Andrew Benintendi at the same time that White Sox manager Pedro Grifol was on the Royals coaching staff. Grifol was a coach with the Royals between 2013-22 and spent seven seasons with Merrifield. Getz worked in the Royals front office from 2014-2016. Merrifield joined the team in 2016. 

The White Sox are also still in need of a second baseman. Getz did bring in Nicky Lopez to fill that hole in a trade package for Aaron Bummer. However, Lopez may be better served in a utility role considering his lack of offense in recent years. 

Last season Merrifield hit .272 with 67 RBIs and 11 home runs and was named an All-Star for the third time in his career. He also stole 26 bases. The 34-year-old was traded to the Blue Jays at the 2022 deadline and slashed .281/.323/.446 in his first 44 games in Toronto.

Merrifield’s game fits the type of fast-paced game Pedro Grifol talked about in his media availability at the Winter Meetings. He puts the ball in play as evidenced by his career .284 batting average. He is also aggressive on the basepaths. Merrifield has 201 career stolen bases and led the American League with 40 back in 2021. 

The three-time All-Star would provide a veteran presence to a White Sox locker room that is trying to turn over a new page. However, there are plenty of red flags in his game. 

His Fielding Run-Value and Batting Run-Value were -3 and -6, placing him in the MLB’s bottom 30 percentile in each category. He had an OAA of -1 last season. Meanwhile, his average exit velocity (85.1), expected slugging percentage (.335), and hard-hit percentage (24.3) all ranked in the bottom five percent in the MLB. 

Merrifield seems like the type of player the White Sox would target but there are some serious questions about the fit especially considering the White Sox already added Lopez.

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