Toronto Blue Jays take over all-star Whit Merrifield

The Toronto Blue Jays acquired two-time all-star Whit Merrifield and strengthened their bullpen by adding righthanded relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop before Tuesday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline.

The Jays acquired Merrifield from Kansas City just before the 6 p.m. ET deadline for pitcher Max Castillo and prospect Samad Taylor.

Merrifield was one of 10 Royals unable to join the team for a four-game run in Toronto last month because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 33-year old, who can play second base and outfield, this season hits .240 with six homeruns and 42 runs batted in.

Last season, he was an all-star when he hit .277 with 10 homeruns and 74 RBIs.

Previously, the Jays took over Bass and Pop from the Miami Marlins for shortstop prospect Jordan Groshans.

The Jays also acquired a player to be named later in the deal.

Bass, 34, has earned a 2-3 record averaging 1.41 over 44 2/3 innings with the Marlins this season, striking out 45 and walking 10.

He spent the 2020 season with Toronto going 2-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 26 appearances.

Bass will have the opportunity to play meaningful matches for the Blue Jays fans, which he could not have done in his first stint with the club. The Blue Jays played home games at Sahlen Field, home of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, during the shortened 2020 season, due to COVID-19 restrictions on the Canada-U.S. border.

“You’re going to a team that has a chance to go into the postseason, which we as players always want to do,” Bass told reporters in Miami on Tuesday before the Marlins hosted the Cincinnati Reds.

“Our end goal is to win the World Series. So that part is exciting, going to Toronto for that chance.”

Pop, 25, from Brampton, Ontario, has a 2-0 record this season averaging 3.60 points earned in 18 appearances with the Marlins, his second in the majors.

He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 23rd round of the 2014 MLB draft, but decided not to sign and instead played collegiately at the University of Kentucky.

Pop, who says he grew up a Blue Jays fan, called the trading news “bittersweet” but said he’s looking forward to playing close to home.

“It’s pretty special to be able to go back home and see my family and play for the Blue Jays,” he said in Miami.

“I have a lot of friends, a lot of people who are rooting for them right now, and to be a part of what they’re doing there is pretty amazing.”

Groshans, 22, was selected 12th by the Blue Jays in the 2018 MLB draft.

In 67 games with the Bisons this season, he hit .250 with a homerun and 24 runs batted in.

The Blue Jays also acquired righthander Mitch White and infielder Alex De Jesus from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for lefthander Moises Brito and righthander Nick Frasso, and traded righthander Jeremy Beasley to the Pittsburgh Pirates for money reasons.

In other moves, left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda was assigned for assignment and left-handed Andrew Vasquez was claimed by Philadelphia for outright waivers.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 2, 2022.

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