CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies had been looking for another outfielder for months, but said they couldn’t find one because everyone wanted guaranteed playing time.
Sources said Friday afternoon that the Phillies and Merrifield agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract, which includes an $8 million club option for 2025. The deal is pending a physical.
Merrifield will provide the Phillies with a much-needed right-handed bat off the bench with the ability to play left field, second base and occasionally elsewhere if needed. But perhaps most importantly, he provides the Phillies with protection in the outfield, with Johan Rojas needing to prove he can be an everyday player and Brandon Marsh’s recent knee surgery has him sidelined until next month. The Phillies believe Marsh will be ready for Opening Day.
Merrifield, 35, a three-time All-Star, hit .272 with 11 home runs, 67 RBIs and a .700 OPS in 592 plate appearances last season with Toronto. The eight-year veteran spent most of his career as a second baseman with the Royals, but played 84 games in the outfield last year with the Blue Jays.
If Rojas stumbles in center, the Phillies could slide Marsh from left to center and Merrifield could play left. If Rojas plays as the Phillies hope, Merrifield could play in left or second against difficult left-handed pitching.
Cristian Pache and Jake Cave entered camp as the fourth and fifth outfielders. Both are out of options, so either of them must be removed from the 40-man roster if they don’t make the Opening Day roster.
Recently, Merrifield had been seeking a two-year contract. The one-year deal with the option appears to be a compromise.