Step 4: Sign Whit Merrifield (1yr/$9mil)
With the additions of what I believe are two premier offensive players for Seattle, we look to adding depth and a little bit of protection to the roster. Once a coveted target for Jerry Dipoto in 2021, he gets his man, bringing in Whit Merrifield on a one year deal.
The soon to be 35 year old is no longer the type of player that Kansas City was foolishly asking Julio Rodriguez for back at the 2021 trade deadline, but I believe he can bring more than just a veteran presence into the clubhouse. The 3-time all-star had a tremendous start to his 2023 season, hitting .286/.342/.392 with 17 doubles and 19 stolen bases after 82 games. Unfortunately for Merrifield, a toe injury and groin issue ruined his second half and made him a bench player in the postseason.
On a one year deal, Seattle could maximize Merrifield’s strengths, turning him into a super utility player. Even at his age, Merrifield still has elite speed and an excellent eye for the strike zone, striking out only 17.1% of the time. His ability to play the corner outfield positions, as well as second (can also be an emergency 1st baseman) provide Seattle with arguably the best contact bench bat they've had in a long time. Dipoto has long been fascinated with finding the next Ben Zobrist (as is everyone else), and that's not who Whit necessarily is, but that doesn't mean he can't be a discount version for one year.
Another benefit of having Merrifield around is the protection the lineup has in case Jarred Kelenic struggles in 2024. If Kelenic were to fail, the odds of the Mariners making the playoffs take a huge hit. With this deal, Seattle could get by for a while and potentially make a move at the deadline.