The Canadian COVID-19 vaccination mandate for visitors has led to lots of discussion around visiting MLB and NBA players who have chosen not to be vaccinated and thus, have wound up sitting out series in Canada. What’s perhaps even more interesting than the “I will not get vaccinated no matter what” players like the Brooklyn Nets‘ Kyrie Irving is the numerous baseball players who have not gotten vaccinated yet (and have missed road games against the Toronto Blue Jays over that), but have implied they might make that decision if they wound up on an American League East team with plenty of remaining games against the Jays, or on an AL team that might conceivably have to travel to Toronto in the postseason. Some of the most notable comments there came from Kansas City Royals‘ second baseman Whit Merrifield, and now his comments will be put to the test.
After missing the Royals’ series in Canada last month (along with nine teammates) over his refusal of a vaccine, Merrifield said he might get vaccinated if traded to a playoff team. He claimed “Something happens and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes.” Well, something did happen, and Merrifield now has a chance to go play in Canada even ahead of the postseason. That’s because the Jays traded for him at the trade deadline Tuesday, as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported:
Merrifield goes to the Blue Jays for Samad Taylor and Max Castillo, per source. https://t.co/wi7YwyqnmF
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) August 2, 2022
Of course, Twitter had many reactions to that:
Whit Merrifield has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, sources tell ESPN.
One has to believe he'll be getting vaccinated.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 2, 2022
objectively hilarious https://t.co/nRSdwfv7cm
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) August 2, 2022
Whit Merrifield's gonna be in the home clubhouse by Zoom
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) August 2, 2022
Well, when Merrifield said he might be willing to get vaccinated for a contender, he wasn't lying.
If Whit gets the J&J shot today, I think he can enter Canada in 14 days. If the Blue Jays weren't on the road until August 12th, I wonder if this trade happens. https://t.co/90cMzKDS4N
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) August 2, 2022
Have there ever been home/road platoons? Maybe Merrifield didn't get jabbed and will only play when the Jays are in the States. https://t.co/543syH9Hw6
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) August 2, 2022
I have to admit, I'm kinda rooting for Merrifield not to get vaccinated, setting up the only country-based platoon scenario in baseball history.
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) August 2, 2022
One final insult for the Royals. Whit Merrifield will choose to compete for his next team like he wouldn't for you https://t.co/s0iYAbbDO0
— Razzball (@Razzball) August 2, 2022
Whit Merrifield said he would get vaccinated if he went to a playoff team that could play in Toronto. Him getting traded TO Toronto is a little on the nose 😂
— Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53) August 2, 2022
It may be on the nose, but it’s certainly notable. We’ll see if and when Merrifield gets vaccinated, and if and when he’s able to enter Canada. And we’ll see how he does with the Jays. The 33-year-old Merrifield (seen above last September) is hitting .240/.290/.352 this season, well below his career averages of .286/.332/.425.
[Mark Feinsand on Twitter; photo from Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Sports]