4) Whit Merrifield
Merrifield doesn't seem like a great fit for the Cardinals at first glance. He plays second base, and the Cardinals have a plethora of young middle infielders. Although Merrifield was named an All-Star in 2023, he's coming off of a subpar season. He took steps back both offensively and defensively. His value is much lower than it was just a year ago, meaning he'll cost the Cardinals relatively little to acquire. However, teams shouldn't sign players just because they're inexpensive. The Cardinals should be interested in Merrifield because of his durability and because of the roster flexibility he would provide them with.
Merrifield plays second base. If he was added to the roster today, he'd be stuck behind Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, and potentially Thomas Saggese. Tommy Edman is also capable of playing second at a high level. However, Edman is committed to center, and Donovan functions as a super-sub, filling in all over the field. Thus, the Cardinals are thinner at second base than many realize. If Winn struggles, the Cards could be forced to move Edman or Donovan to short, compounding the issue. If Saggese begins the year in AAA as many expect, they'll also be lacking quality bench options.
Enter Whit Merrifield. He's durable. Merrifield famously played in every game between 2019 and 2021. He plays through various issues, even though many of his contemporaries don't. He'd be available every day off the bench. That kind of player is valuable. Merrifield can stop the bleeding if the Cardinals suffer an unfortunate string of injuries. This would prevent them from relying on players who simply aren't ready, as they've had to in recent years. Let's also remember, Whit Merrifield's still got it.
However, the most interesting part about acquiring Whit Merrifield would be the roster flexibility he would grant the organization. At the moment, the Cardinals are unlikely to move Gorman or Donovan. I'm not saying they should do this, but it must be noted that acquiring an ace will cost the Cardinals dearly. Moving Gorman or Donovan could net a pitcher like Jesus Luzardo, Dylan Cease, or Logan Gilbert. (I will state that I still lean towards holding on to both young infielders).
While both Gorman and Donovan are special players, it's clear that moving them could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of quality infield depth. Winn and Saggese are likely to be good players someday. But, it's possible neither of them are ready for everyday roles in 2024. Even if the Cardinals manage to acquire an impact starter without moving Gorman or Donovan, they may have to part with Saggese, Winn, or other infielders in their system. Adding Merrifield would bolster that depth.