Whit Merrifield signed a one-year $8M deal with the Phillies late this off-season despite reportedly looking for a two-year deal. Bryce Harper was a key recruiter who brought him to sign in to Philadelphia.
It’s clear Harper’s word held a lot of water in both Philadelphia and Merrifield’s camp.

Merrifield was signed to play the super-utility role while providing some much-needed contact from the right side of the plate. Merrifield can play all three outfield positions, second base, and third base, and even has appeared at first base three times, all while boasting a career .281 batting average.

The only issue has been that Merrifield’s bat has been abysmal through the team’s first 84 games. In 138 at-bats this year for the Phillies, the veteran has only 26 hits, with an average of .188. “Two-Hit Whit” has now become No-Hit Whit.

The 35-year-old has been relatively consistent throughout his career, batting over .300 twice and on the All-Star team three times, but he just has not been able to adjust to a new role of limited playing time.

The team is now over halfway through the season, and it’s very likely that Merrifield will not make the post-season roster at this moment.

The question now becomes, what should the Phillies do with Whit Merrifield?

The least likely scenario would be that the Phillies would DFA Merrifield to open a roster spot. While this is very unlikely, we have seen the team move on from veterans who were owed money, if it makes sense, Didi Gregorius and Jeurys Familia, to be exact. Although he has not lived up to the $8M contract, eating the money just doesn’t seem likely given the back of the baseball card.

The Phillies could try to trade Merrifield somewhere, looking for a utility man to play every day. There is no question about it: he has not been good at the plate, but the Phillies don’t really have a spot for Merrifield to get the reps that he needs to be the hitter he has been. Merrifield and the Phillies both took a risk, and it just has not paid off; if Merrifield can find consistent playing time with another team, he might be a good fit for a team on the bubble.

The most likely option is for the Phillies to just continue being patient with him.

While this certainly will not be perceived well by the fans, Merrfieild was an All-Star just last year with the Blue Jays. While it’s hard to imagine after watching his at-bats with the Phillies so far, he has a strong track record of hitting major league pitching. We have seen plenty of players get off to slow starts and figure it out after the All-Star break; maybe the time off will help.

The truth of the matter is that the Phillies are 26 games above .500 heading into July with this version of Merrifield; it makes sense to bank him to figure things out before the playoffs.

Whatever the Phillies decide to do, the trade deadline is just one month away now.
It’s very likely that Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies front office are exploring all options for upgrading one of the best teams in Phillies history.

PHOTO: ClutchPoints

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