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#pounditSunday, December 4, 2022

Blue Jays make surprise trade for unvaccinated player

Whit Merrifield looking on

Jul 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; American League second baseman Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals (15) looks at the stands during warmups before the 2021 MLB All Star Game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Whit Meriffield from the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday just weeks after the former All-Star was ineligible to play in Toronto prior due to his COVID vaccination status.

Merrifield was one of many Royals players who could not travel to Toronto before the All-Star break for a series against the Blue Jays due to being unvaccinated. Canada does not currently permit travelers into the country who are unvaccinated against COVID.

Shortly after Tuesday’s trade deadline passed, we learned that the Jays had acquired Merrifield. The Royals received pitcher Max Castillo and infielder Samad Taylor from the Blue Jays in return for Merrifield.

The two-time All-Star faced backlash for saying he would consider getting the COVID vaccine if traded to a playoff contender. That left the Royals feeling insulted that he didn’t value their games enough to get vaccinated.

The Blue Jays have a long nine-day road trip beginning on Tuesday, which means Merrifield can play for the team right away. The trip could also give Merrifield a chance to get vaccinated prior to the Blue Jays’ return to Toronto on August 12.

According to the Canadian Government, Merrifield would be able to enter Canada 14 calendar days after receiving the single-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If he were to get a two-dose vaccine, however, Merrifield would not be able to travel to the country until 14 calendar days after his second shot.

The versatile 33-year-old can provide the Blue Jays with some additional depth in the infield and outfield. In 95 games this season, Merrifield is hitting .240 with six home runs and 42 RBI.

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