The Chicago Cubs have been rumored to be chasing Whit Merrifield since at least the trade deadline, last year. The Kansas City Royals star is expected to be priced out of his current team's budget in the coming years and most experts believe the Royals will look to get something for him before that happens.

The Cubs and Royals couldn't work out a deal last year because it was reported the Royals were simply asking too much. Most believed it made sense to be asking for quite a bit at the time because he's still relatively cheap this coming season.

There wasn't a need to deal him or lose him over the current offseason.

Now that we've moved closer to the period of time when he could be lost for nothing, more analysts believe his price is going down. As Michael Canter of Cubs Insider points out, there is also a lack of teams asking after Merrifield these days.

Chicago Cubs the sole pursuer?

Canter believes the Cubs are in fact, the only team going after Whit Merrifield. There are a number of reasons he believes this to be true. Among them are that Merrifield is not all that young, despite only being the majors for four seasons.

His game also relies quite a bit on steals, and baseball execs tend to believe speed doesn't age well.

31 entering the 2020 season, Merrifield already saw a rather significant dip in steals. He stole 34 in 2017 and 45 in 2018. In 2019, he stole just 20 bases, while being caught 10 times.

Merrifield also hit nearly as many doubles, led the league in triples and had an uptick in home runs (16 after hitting 12 in 2018) so there isn't any definitive evidence he's slowing down yet. Overall, his OPS increased for the fourth straight year.

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Those numbers make one wonder why the Chicago Cubs are the only pursuer. While it's possible other teams are more lowkey in their pursuit, the Whit Merrifield rumors around major league baseball this winter have almost all included the Cubs.

Youngsters on the move?

For whatever reason Whit Merrifield's market has cooled, Canter believes the Chicago Cubs could pry him away from the Kansas City Royals for Ian Happ or Nico Hoerner and minor league pitcher Cory Abbott.

For those not familiar with Cubs youngsters, Happ was once considered a blue-chip prospect who hit 20 homers in his first full big-league season.

His strikeout rate was higher than the Cubs were comfortable with and spent most of 2019 in the minors. He came up late in the season and performed well enough to be considered for a roster spot this season. Hoerner debuted late in the season last year after Javier Baez went down.

He's expected to start the year in the minors in 2019 but most analysts believe he'll be a fixture on the Cubs infield by the end of the year. 24-year-old Cory Abbot spent all of last season in AA where he posted an 8-8 record with a 3.01 earned run average.

He also struck out 166 batters in just 146.1 innings of work.

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