The Toronto Blue Jays acquired two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield and solidified their bullpen by adding right-handers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop before Major League Baseball’s close on Tuesday.
Merrifield was one of 10 royals who were unable to accompany the team to a four-game series in Toronto last month because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 33-year-old, who can play second base and outfield, is hitting .240 with six homers and 42 batted runs this season.
He was an All-Star last season when he hit .277 with 10 homers and 74 RBIs.
OFFICIAL: We acquired 2x All-Star Whit Merrifield from the Royals in exchange for RHP Max Castillo and INF Samad Taylor. pic.twitter.com/GvySabLiic
Previously, the Jays acquired bass and pop from the Miami Marlins for shortstop prospect Jordan Groshans.
The Jays also acquired a player who would later be named in the deal.
Bass, 34, has a 2-3 record with a 1.41 earned running average over 44 2/3 innings with the Marlins this season, with 45 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Bass will get a chance to take part in significant games in front of Blue Jays fans, something he didn’t get the chance to do 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-US border.
“You’re going to a team that has a chance to go into the postseason, which is what we always want as players,” Bass told reporters in Miami before the Marlins hosted the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the World Series. So that part is exciting to go to Toronto for this opportunity.”
Jays provide Canadian flair
The 25-year-old pop from Brampton, Ontario has a 2-0 record this season with a 3.60 earned run average in 18 appearances with the Marlins, his second in the majors.
Pop, who says he grew up a Blue Jays fan, called the news of the trade “bittersweet” but said he’s looking forward to playing close to home.
“It’s very special to be able to return home, see my family and play for the Blue Jays,” he said in Miami.
“I’ve got a lot of friends, a lot of people cheering for them right now, and to be a part of what they’re doing over there is pretty amazing.”
The 22-year-old Groshans was selected 12th overall by the Blue Jays in the 2018 MLB draft.
The Blue Jays also acquired right-hander Mitch White and infielder Alex De Jesus from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for left-hander Moises Brito and right-hander Nick Frasso, and traded right-hander Jeremy Beasley to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash.
On other moves, left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda was designated for the assignment, and left-handed Andrew Vasquez was pulled from outright waivers by Philadelphia.