Unvaccinated Status Affecting Trade Value for Kansas City Royals’ Players Andrew Benintendi, Whit Merrifield

by Bryan Fyalkowski

Ten unvaccinated Kansas City Royals players were placed on the “restricted list” prior to the team’s four-game series at Toronto this weekend. That designates that they cannot play in Canada due to the country’s restrictions on individuals who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Most notably, Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield were among that bunch. Leading up to this week, both players were seen as trade chips heading into MLB’s deadline on Tuesday, August 2.

In Benintendi’s case, the 28-year-old is having possibly the best season of his career so far. His .317 batting average ranks fifth in all of baseball, while he boasts a solid OPS of .787.

The outfielder was seen as a possible trade target for the New York Yankees. But the fact that Benintendi is unvaccinated and cannot play in Toronto has in turn made him unappealing to the Yankees. New York has a late three-game series there in late September and could potentially face the Blue Jays in the playoffs.

The Yankees have been the only MLB team this season to have its entire roster available in Toronto. Benintendi is still generating buzz from other teams, including New York’s cross-town rival Mets.

Kansas City Royals Veteran Explains His Reasoning

Whit Merrifield, meanwhile, had an odd comment when asked about why he was unvaccinated. He said his decision “might change down the road” if he “gets on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason.”

It is an odd thing to say because if he would consider getting the vaccine in the future, that means he is not truly strongly opposed to it. So, why would Merrifield not have just gotten it already? He would have made the trip to Toronto and not missed out on $153,846 in salary.

Merrifield said that “as [I] sit here right now, I’m comfortable with my decision.” Meaning, essentially, that if the Royals were better than 35-53 he might have gotten the vaccine. So weird.

Unlike Andrew Benintendi, Merrifield is not having a good season – with a .240 batting average and a putrid OPS of .635. Nor is he an impending free agent. The 33-year-old is set to make $6.75 million in 2023 with an $18 million mutual option for 2024.