Merrifield’s new contract includes plenty of incentives

SURPRISE, Ariz. — The price of Kansas City‘s 2023 option on Whit Merrifield is conditioned on the second baseman not spending more than 109 days on the injured list in each of the next four seasons.

Merrifield and the Royals agreed Jan. 28 to a $16.25 million, four-year contract that covers Merrifield’s years of arbitration eligibility; Merrifield gets $1 million this year, $5 million in 2020, $6.75 million in 2021 and $2.75 million in 2022. The Royals have a $6.5 million option for 2023 with a $750,000 buyout, but the option price would increase by $4 million if he does not spend the specified days on the IL.

His salaries in 2021, 2022 and 2023 can increase by up to $1 million a year based on a points system for accomplishments from 2019-20. It calls for 0.5 points for 1,200 plate appearances; one point each for 1,400 plate appearances or winning a Gold Glove; two points for becoming an All-Star, winning a Silver Slugger or finishing 11th through 15th in MVP voting; three points for finishing sixth through 10th in MVP voting; four points for finishing second through fifth in MVP voting; and five points for winning an MVP award.

Salaries from 2021-23 would escalate by $200,000 for 0.5 points, and by $100,000 for one point and each additional point through eight.

The 30-year-old was a late bloomer who didn’t break into the big leagues until 2016, when he was 27 years old. That means he still wouldn’t have been eligible for arbitration until next offseason, and that the Royals could have controlled his rights for several more years. He batted .304 with an American League-leading 192 hits and 45 stolen bases last season. He also hit 12 homers and with 60 RBIs while playing a solid second base defensively, and he’s capable of playing first base, third base and all three outfield positions.