KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Royals tonight announced that they have agreed to a restructured contract with infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield. As part of the agreement, the Royals have exercised their club option on Merrifield for 2023 and have added a mutual option for 2024.
Merrifield, 33, hit .277 (184-for-664) last season and led the American League in stolen bases (40) for the third time in his six-year career. He also tied for the Majors lead with 42 doubles, becoming the first player to lead the American League in both steals and doubles since Charlie Gehringer in 1929.
Last year marked the second 40-double/40-steal season of his career (2018), making him one of seven players in Major League history to record multiple 40/40 seasons, joining Brian Roberts (2007-08), Hanley Ramírez (2006-07), Alfonso Soriano (2002, 2006), George Sisler (1920, 1922), Tris Speaker (1912, 1914) and Ty Cobb (1911, 1917).
Merrifield enters the 2022 season having played in 469 consecutive games, which is a Royals record and the longest active streak in the Majors.
He led the Majors in hits in consecutive seasons from 2018-19, becoming the first player to do so since Ichiro Suzuki led the Majors in hits in five straight years from 2006-10. Merrifield has 821 hits since the start of 2017, which are most in the Majors over the last five seasons, 38 more than Charlie Blackmon, who ranks second.
Merrifield, a two-time All-Star (2019, 2021) and career .291 hitter, has started games at six different defensive positions in his big league career, including second base (526), right field (110), center field (63), left field (24), first base (10) and third base (3).