The Royals are nearing a four-year contract extension with second baseman/outfielder Whit Merrifield, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports. With Merrifield already under control through 2022, his new deal will cover his final pre-arbitration season and his three arb-eligible years. Merrifield is a client of The L. Warner Companies, Inc.

Although the Royals are coming off a 58-win season and figure to miss the playoffs for the third straight year in 2019, they’ve consistently turned away trade interest in Merrifield. General manager Dayton Moore declared prior to last summer’s non-waiver trade deadline that the Royals “need [Merrifield] in our city and on our team,” and the late-blooming standout’s extension will serve as the franchise’s latest vote of confidence in him.

A ninth-round pick of the Royals in 2010, the 30-year-old Merrifield has likely emerged as the Royals’ premier player in the club’s post-Lorenzo Cain/Eric Hosmer/Mike Moustakas era. Merrifield debuted with a respectable showing in 2016, albeit over just half a season (81 games, 332 plate appearances), before truly breaking out the next year. Since 2017, the righty-hitting Merrifield has accrued 8.1 fWAR (including 5.2 in 2018, tying him for 15th among position players) and slashed .296/.347/.449 with 31 home runs and 79 stolen bases in 1,337 PAs.