Do not expect any big moves by Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto this offseason
I will admit, at first, I thought this would be a big offseason for the Seattle Mariners in terms of spending and trading. But, when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, there is not much logic behind spending big this offseason.
My conversation with Ryan Rowland-Smith on the Fresh out of College podcast gave me some perspective. He talked about how signing a player like Liam Hendriks this offseason does not line up with the Mariners’ trajectory, and I agree.
Jerry Dipoto’s complete rebuild has opened up a lot of flexibility for the Mariners front office, but this offseason is not the year to go holiday shopping because we are not in win-now mode, yet. Even if the Seattle Mariners acquired a free-agent like DJ Lemahieu, or traded for star players like Francisco Lindor or Yu Darvish, does that make the team suddenly World Series contenders? I say no.
I think that is the type of question the Seattle Mariners front office is asking itself every day when debating who to bring in. That is what Mariners fans need to ask themselves when they are critiquing the offseason movement or lack of offseason movement in 2020-2021.
There is no doubt that the Seattle Mariners fanbase has been waiting for a long time to see the Mariners in the playoff conversation, and I think this problem is pushing Jerry Dipoto to operate even more carefully. What I mean by this is that Jerry Dipoto’s goal is not to make the Seattle Mariners a playoff contender now, but to win the World Series in a couple of years.
Jerry Dipoto could have easily kept Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to make the Mariners a decent team, but he opted to trade them. Dipoto could have gone after a big free agent last offseason, but he did not. I think this trend will continue into 2021 because he is saving for a big load of players in the 2021-2022 offseason.
If you look at some of the past teams who rose to fame out of the ashes, like the 2015 Kansas City Royals, or the 2017 Houston Astros, they were not good teams leading up to their national titles. They both invested in a full rebuild, gained prospects, and when the time came they went shopping to add veterans, relievers, and depth in the lineup.
The Seattle Mariners are taking a play out of the “rebuild” playbook and are remaining patient until the right time comes. The “right” time looks to be the 2022 season. The reason why I think “the year” will be 2022 is that the team has not seen some of its top talents perform in the big leagues yet.
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This goes back to my point about operating very carefully because the Mariners cannot expect the team to suddenly be good based on the assumptions that Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, Logan Gilbert, and others will perform in their rookie seasons just because they are top prospects. Things happen, and Mariners fans know best. Injuries happen, minor league performances do not translate into the MLB, prospects were rushed, prospects were pressured, etc.
That is why 2021 will be a big year where the team can better assess player performances and more accurately project their future contributions. I am mostly referring to Kyle Lewis, Evan White, JP Crawford, Yusei Kikuchi, and all the 2021 rookies because the team needs to determine if they can continue their performances, or if they will ever turn things around. That way, it will give the team a better understanding of what holes need to be filled before making a big playoff push.
With all of that being said, the Seattle Mariners will be making some moves this offseason but are most likely not going to be offering $100M+ contracts or making blockbuster trades sending Julio Rodriguez and Taylor Trammell to other teams. Jerry Dipoto will be making moves with the future in mind.
That is why bringing in Rafael Montero makes sense because he is under club control until 2022, and is in his prime-age as a reliever (currently 30 years old). That is why signing Chris Flexen to a deal makes sense. He is a young pitcher that turned his career around in South Korea and is low risk – high reward potential kind of player. That is why signing a young flame thrower like Keynan Middleton makes sense. He is only 27-years-old and is looking to prove himself.
I know it is hard to be patient as a Seattle Mariners fan, but if you are “True to the Blue”, you need to trust the process and wait another year before the team makes any splashes.