Today Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto sat down with the media and answered some social media questions during the Mariners virtual baseball bash. He started things off by answering a question about his expectation for the team in 2021. Dipoto said that they “set the goal of competing for a playoff spot in 2021 and we’ll see how it goes.”
He was also of course asked about the slow pace of free agency. He said that the Seattle Mariners are active right now, and that they were largely focused on pitching going into the offseason. He said they have been connected to trades and free agents that can help the Mariners get better and they are indeed open to adding a starting pitcher and a left-handed bat whether he is in the outfield or at second base.
He also answered another question about free agency and building the roster of “Did covid change what you planned to do?” Dipoto said, “Economically no.” He went on to say that their program is set up to develop young players and If the season was full it may have given them clarity on their young players and positions of need. But, because of the shortened season, they still need to find out more about our young players.
On the subject of the position that they have been the most active on in the offseason, the bullpen, Dipoto said that they feel like they are “building stability in a group that has not had stability in the last few years.”
The 6 man rotation will be returning for 2021 as we know and Dipoto said on that subject that they thought it was better to preserve health and development, similar to what manager Scott Servais had to say about it last month.
He said that Chris Flexen will definitely be in the rotation that will also definitely include Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield, and Yusei Kikuchi. He mentioned that two spots are open in the rotation and will be taken by Justin Dunn, Nick Margevicius, Logan Gilbert, Ljay Newsome, or a potentially signed minor league free agent.
He also offered some updates on injuries saying that Mitch Haniger looks great and that when he is healthy he is Seattle’s best player.
"“If we can get some version of that Mitch Hangiger back on the field it really changes our arc.”"
He was also very positive about Andres Munoz, who won’t be ready for opening day. There was no mention of when he could return but said that they will be conservative on his return.
Jerry was asked about the catcher position and said it will be a 50/50 or 55/45 split between Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens. He talked highly about Murphy and his power and said the Mariners are higher on Torrens than the public as they think he could be a great hitter and is good defensively, as well as good at framing. Dipoto mentioned that there will be hiccups (injuries and poor performance) and Cal Raleigh will get a shot as the third catcher on the depth chart.
Dipoto also spoke on how he was impressed by the Seattle Mariners young group that featured a league-high 11 African American players.
"“We had a club that was very well represented with African American players and had by far the highest percentage of African American players on rosters in major league baseball, and in a time of social or civic unrest, I could not have been prouder of the way that our young players responded and our leader led. Those were the things that stood out to me most was how we handled ourselves in real-life situations, and how we grew in the face of adversity.”"
Dipoto mentioned Hisashi Iwakuma coming back in a special assistant role and said that he can help with specifically Yusei Kikuchi’s development as well as the development of the minor league pitchers.
He of course was also asked about the Seattle Mariners’ prospects like answering the question of who is in the next wave of prospects to come up? He said Logan Gilbert is the closest to major league preparedness, and also mentioned Jarred Kelenic, Cal Raleigh, and potentially Taylor Trammell.
Dipoto was also asked which under the radar prospect will we know the name of next season? He answered Levi Stout, who was great in instructional league and is not a very widely known Mariners prospect. In terms of a prospect who is closer to the MLB level Dipoto said Juan Then who he said of all the 40 man roster Then has the best chance to take the biggest step. When asked about a position player Jerry said Zack Deloach and described him as a player that does everything well.
While Dipoto probably had to act as somewhat of a shield for the Seattle Mariners ownership group on questions about spending in free agency, overall he gave some interesting and insightful answers that let us see what the Mariners’ plan is for next season specifically.