Blue Jays, Whit Merrifield decline $18M mutual option

The Toronto Blue Jays and Whit Merrifield both declined his $18 million mutual option for 2024, making the three-time All-Star a free agent.

The Blue Jays, who made the announcement Friday, will owe the 34-year-old second baseman/outfielder a $500,000 buyout.

Merrifield was the only Toronto player named a Silver Slugger finalist in 2023 after batting .272 with 11 home runs, 67 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 145 games.

Merrifield made the American League All-Star team for a third time in 2023, joining his 2019 and 2021 selections as a member of the Kansas City Royals.

He is a lifetime .284/.330/.420 hitter with 90 homers, 470 RBIs and 201 stolen bases in 1,052 games for the Royals (2016-22) and Blue Jays. Toronto acquired him from Kansas City on Aug. 2, 2022, in exchange for right-hander Max Castillo and infielder/outfielder Samad Taylor.

Merrifield has led the AL in stolen bases three times (2017, 2018, 2021), hits two times (2018, 2019) and doubles (2021) and triples (2019) once each.