Morosi: 2 veteran infielders who make sense for Mariners in free agency

Jan 19, 2024, 11:55 AM

Seattle Mariners Whit Merrifield free agency...

Whit Merrifield of the Toronto Blue Jays during the MLB All-Star Game on July 11, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Do the Seattle Mariners have any notable moves left in them this offseason?

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Seattle’s roster looks much different and more complete now than it did two weeks ago as the Mariners acquired Mitch Haniger and Luke Raley in two separate trades. But the team appears to be needing one more bat, specifically in the infield.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi thinks there are two veteran free agents that make sense for the Mariners, as he explained during a Thursday visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“I’d mention two names right now that I think would help the Mariners and probably will fit in their general price range, and that’s Whit Merrifield and Tim Anderson,” he said.

Anderson, 31, and Merrifield, 34, are two notable names still available on the market.

Anderson has been a shortstop in his career for the Chicago White Sox, but Morosi sees him as a second baseman moving forward. Merrifield has played second base and corner outfield in his career.

“Whit Merrifield is someone that his market I believe is starting to pick up,” Morosi said. “I’ve loved the Mariners from the very beginning as a good fit for him. He puts the ball in play and he’s a very athletic player, he can steal a base for you, he’s great in the clubhouse as well. The Mariners with their club by bringing in Raley, they were able to get someone who at least bats from the left side and gives you balance. I think (Mitch) Garver we know is likely to be their everyday DH, so I think Garver in a lot of ways precludes going after someone like J.D. Martinez … But I believe that Merrifield and Anderson are a better fit for what the Mariners need because there would be that defensive component. I think anybody that you sign as a free agent would optimally be a second baseman or at least be able to play in the middle of the diamond.”

Merrifield, who was an All-Star for the third time last year, slashed .272/.318/.382 for the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s a career .284 hitter.

Anderson, though, had easily the worst year of his career, slashing just .245/.286/.296. The two-time All-Star was a starter for Team USA in last year’s World Baseball Classic before having such a down year in Chicago.

“He’s a good ballplayer who had a bad year,” Morosi said of Anderson. “And so for me, Tim Anderson is a nice fit for this team. I think Whit Merrifield is an even better fit. But either of them would be an upgrade. And I do think the Mariners as much as they have tried to work on a budget, neither Merrifield nor Anderson, for me, would break that budget, and I believe both of them would would make a tremendous contribution to the Mariners in 2024.”

As for why Anderson had a career-worst season in 2023, Morosi said the White Sox had a “bad atmosphere” and “not good” clubhouse, and the team ultimately parted ways with their two top front office members.

“Anderson, I think at different times the last couple of years, has maybe gone through some stuff away from the diamond that maybe was difficult for him to kind of get things fully focused and oriented towards just the on-field production,” Morosi said. “And yet, he still played 123 games. Even amid all of that he was still in the lineup often enough to be a dependable player. The production wasn’t there, but at least he played. When you bring in a free agent who’s entering his age-31 season, the first thing you always ask about is is the durability piece. And for me, at least he answered the bell … I think in the right situation, he would be a much better and different player than he was for the White Sox in 2023 … I think what he needs and what the Mariners want, they align pretty well.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full conversation with Jon Morosi at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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