The Kansas Metropolis Royals traded second baseman Whit Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Whit Merrifield said last month that he might be willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine if it meant playing for the team he’s competing against, though he refused to get vaccinated while playing for last place. Kansas City Royals.

He will have to make that decision now.

In a unique and possibly unprecedented move, the Royals traded Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays just minutes before the trade deadline on Tuesday. And if the two-time All-Star wants to play any games in Canada, Merrifield will have to get one of the approved vaccines to enter the country.

“We’ll let him work it out with his family,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said, declining to comment further on the matter. “We felt we improved a very good team today.”

Merrifield was among 10 Royals players who were not vaccinated last month, preventing them from traveling to Toronto. When asked about his decision, Merrifield drew the ire of Kansas City fans when he said, “Something happens and I happen to be on a team that has a chance to play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that will change.”

Many understood that Merrifield did not want to inoculate his current team, but to inoculate another.

“Our conversation with Whit and his vaccination status ended when we went to Toronto because it didn’t affect us after that,” Royals general manager JJ Picollo said. “I will keep the conversations we had with Toronto confidential. I don’t need to talk about a player on another team.”

The Royals received speedy youngster Samad Taylor and righty Max Castillo in the deal, both of whom could help their big league team as early as this season. Taylor, 24, is hitting .258 with nine homers and 23 stolen bases in 70 games for Triple-A Buffalo, while Castillo, 23, has a 3.05 ERA in nine appearances for Toronto.

The deal also gives the young Royals more opportunities to play together.

Merrifield, 33, is hitting just .240 with 30 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in 95 games this season. But he’s proven reliable — his 553-game Iron Man streak ended last month with a toe injury — leading the league in hits twice, leading the league in stolen bases three times and leading the AL. 42 doubles last season.

Merrifield is making $7 million this season. $2.75 million next season. USD together with 4 mln. $ bonus for less than 110 days on the injured list in 2022 He has 18 million. USD mutual option in 2024 with a $500,000 buyout.

“I like Whit. I like him as a player. I like him as a person,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said before the game against the White Sox in Chicago. “But I also understand that this is not a shock. This conversation started a long time ago.”

Toronto, which opened Tuesday with a three-game lead over Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card, was missing an outfielder. George Springer in the lineup for the third time in the last four games against the Rays with a right elbow injury.

Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said Springer will be reevaluated Wednesday.

“He’s going to do some things on the field today and then he’ll visit it again,” Schneider said, “but it’s nothing concrete right now.” You really want to help him to be good and successful and help us. so we hope all goes well. We hope it doesn’t get in the way of him, his performance, and us.

It was a busy day for the Blue Jays, who received Anthony Bass and Zach Pop off waivers and shortstop Jordan Groshans, who was later named from Miami; right-hander Mitch White and infielder Alex DeJesus of the Dodgers, right-hander Nick Frasso and left-hander Moises Brito; sent right-hander Jeremy Beasley to Pittsburgh for cash; the left-hander recalled Matt Gage from Buffalo; and designated left-hander Anthony Banda.

Bass is 2/3 with a 1.41 ERA in 45 games for Miami, while Pop is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 18 outings.

“Two guys who throw hard,” Schneider said. “Any compliment we get is amazing.

The Royals were less busy than many expected at the deadline, though they did make a late deal with the Padres, sending backup catcher Cam Gallagher to San Diego for minor league outfielder Brent Rooker.

Gallagher played in just 18 games for Kansas City this season and resigned Salvador Perez to an increasing perspective MJ Melendez. Rooker, 27, is hitting .272 with 19 homers in 61 games for Triple-A El Paso this season.

“I was shocked. It’s a business. I love the Royals. I’ll take all the memories and build on them,” said Gallagher, who spent six seasons in Kansas City. “But at the end of the day, it’s a new opportunity for me.”

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