Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s Insurance Policy
40 days away from the start of spring training, Mariners General Manager, Jerry Dipoto has built the type of team he wants. He constructed a team that should compete for a playoff birth. However, he’s a smart guy, so you know he also has built-in an interesting insurance policy.
Jerry Dipoto has built a roster which will require him to be active in the month of July.
By not giving up any of his top prospects, the Mariners should be in a good position to “buy” at the trade deadline if they are in the playoff hunt.
But what if they aren’t? What if they get off to a slow start and find themselves 10 games back at the All-Star Break? Dipoto has thought of this as well. Dipoto will sell.
What if they get off to a slow start and find themselves 10 games back at the All-Star Break? Dipoto has prepared for the scenario. He will become a seller.
Consider the type of players he has brought in. Jarrod Dyson is a defense and speed-oriented player. He is 32 years old and cheap. He would be a very nice piece for a contending team. But with one year left on his contract, Dipoto didn’t bring him to Seattle to be a long-term fixture.
Yovani Gallardo has been a durable, solid #2 or #3 pitcher for most of his career. If he returns to his 2015 form, he would likely become one of the hottest commodities on the July trade market. He also has just 1 year left on his deal, a team option for the 2018 season.
Danny Valencia is, at worst, an excellent platoon bat against LHP who can play all 4 corner positions. He is no slouch against RHP either and could make for an excellent #6 type of hitter on a contending team. No surprise, he has one year left on his deal.
Carlos Ruiz is a veteran, backup catcher who still hits and fields well enough to play 3 times a week. He has experience in the playoff chase and is a great clubhouse guy. But, add one more player to the “one year left” tally.
Steve Cishek is a guy with closer experience who is killer against right-handed hitters and racks up lots of strikeouts. You guessed it, he also has one year left.
It’s impossible not to see the pattern here. None of these players are likely to have a long-term place on the Mariners roster. None of them will bring back “blue chip” prospects, but for Dipoto, depth in the farm is a central theme.
It’s not just the 1-year guys that could be on the move in July, though.
Hisashi Iwakuma has a vesting option for 2018 at $14 million if he throws 162 innings. If he doesn’t there is still a $10 million club option. A healthy Iwakuma gives the acquiring team 2 years of a #3 pitcher at a very reasonable price.
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Leonys Martin is one of the best centerfielders in the game. Last season he showed 20/20 potential and is still in his statistical prime. He has 2 years left on his deal.
Nelson Cruz would likely be the best hitter available at the trade deadline. If there is a dearth of impact bats, Cruz could fetch a blue chip prospect or perhaps several “B level” prospects. He too has 2 years left on his original deal.
Furthermore, newly acquired shortstop Jean Segura is also an interesting name. If he is 75% the player he was last season, Segura is probably Dipoto’s biggest trade chip.
A 27-year-old middle infielder with 20 HR pop and an ability to steal 30-40 bases? He still has 2 years of club control left. He would not be a rental and could be one of the best offensive shortstops to hit the market in a long time. It is conceivable that Dipoto could move Segura for a piece he likes more than Taijuan Walker.
Only 3 players on the projected Opening Day roster are 99.99% locks to be on the roster come October 1st.
Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano’s contracts make them untradeable. Kyle Seager’s contract isn’t prohibiting in a trade market, but it seems unlikely the Mariners would move him.
Next: Should Ichiro Have Been Traded Sooner?
The facts are plain. The conclusion is simple. Jerry Dipoto is sending a message:
Win now or be torn apart.