As teams have traveled to Toronto to play the Blue Jays this season, fans have learned just how many unvaccinated players are on each squad, since those individuals haven’t been able to make the trip. The Phillies, for instance, left four players behind for their recent trip to Toronto. But no team has had to do without as much talent as the Kansas City Royals, who will play the Blue Jays tonight without 10 members of their regular roster.

Royals Blue Jays unvaccinated odds
Whit Merrifield is among 10 Kansas City Royals players who won’t travel to Toronto for a four-game series against the Blue Jays because they are unvaccinated against COVID-19. (Image: Reed Hoffmann/AP)

DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Blue Jays as a -365 favorite over the Royals (+300) on Thursday, with other bookmakers offering even shorter odds on Toronto.

Royals: Unvaccinated players making personal choices

Kansas City will play four games in Toronto beginning Thursday night. They’ll do so without several of their key hitters, including Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi, MJ Melendez and Hunter Dozier. Starting pitchers Brad Keller and Brady Singer are both out, as is reliever Dylan Coleman. Other players skipping the trip include catcher Cam Gallagher, centerfielder Michael Taylor, and outfielder Kyle Isbel.

Each player will forfeit service time and salary for the four games they miss.

Throughout MLB, teams have encouraged players to get vaccinated against COIVD-19. Some players have even done so specifically to comply with Canada’s travel laws. Once it comes time to travel to Toronto, front offices and vaccinated players typically tell reporters that vaccination is a personal choice, and leave it at that.

The Royals took that same tact, though they seemed even more committed to the idea than many other teams that answered such questions.

“At the end of the day, it’s their choice,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore told reporters. “It’s what they decide to do. And we’ve always been an organization that promotes and encourages individual choices. Unfortunately, some of this affects the team.”

Bettors rally behind Blue Jays vs. depleted KC lineup

Merrifield – who broke his 553 consecutive games streak for a minor injury earlier this week, a streak that would have otherwise ended tonight – said that he considered the Canadian ramifications before deciding not to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

“Right or wrong, I didn’t do it on a whim,” Merrifield said. “It’s been a long thought process, because I understand what Canada has in place right now. That’s the only reason I would think about getting it at this point, is to go to Canada. That might change down the road. If something happens and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes.”

Bettors have flocked to the Blue Jays in the wake of the news. The Action Network reported that 91 percent of public bets were on Toronto at the time of this writing. However, only 68 percent of the money is on the Blue Jays, suggesting some big bettors may be bucking the public trend.

The Blue Jays are also unusually big favorites on the run line. DraftKings is listing Toronto at -190 even giving 1.5 runs, and is offering a slew of lines all the way up to Blue Jays -8.5 (+750).