Mariners current status “The Reset”
Following the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Mariners were faced with a difficult decision. Should they go all-in on a rapidly aging team that had eked out an improbable 89 win season, or hit the reset button and build a more solid foundation for a team down the road?
The pivotal decision to rebuild after winning 89 games proved to be the right one. With even fewer reinforcements coming in the minor leagues than before and marquee free agent Nelson Cruz set to hit the open market, Dipoto decided to bite the bullet and shift the team in another direction in order to build for the future.
While Mariner fans are likely tired of hearing the phrase “there’s always next year,” this decision was unequivocally the right choice and needed to be done. The core had been tried and proved to fall short. The team as constructed was simply not good enough to become a true playoff threat. Thus, blowing up the core and bringing in a young nucleus of talent was best for the organization’s playoff chances.
The 2018-2019 offseason saw franchise players such as James Paxton, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Jean Segura get shipped off to the Yankees, Mets, and Phillies in three separate deals. While it hurt to see so much talent go at the time, the trades have proved to be well worth it in the long run.
The Paxton deal added Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson to the organization. The Segura trade added J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana (Santana was traded shortly after for Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive balance pick). Finally, the Cano and Diaz trade acquired top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while simultaneously getting major salary relief from Cano’s contract.
This offseason alone proved to work wonders as all five players previously mentioned in these three trades alone are on the Major League roster and contributing in major ways. Coupled with the signing of Yusei Kikuchi and the smaller acquisitions of Jake Fraley, Shed Long, and Omar Narvaez, Dipoto’s major selloff saw a large influx of talent into the system in a very short amount of time.
The following seasons saw fewer pieces sold off due to the simple fact that there just were not many pieces to sell. The 2019 and 2020 seasons were primarily a wash, rebuilding the roster and trying to find diamonds in the rough. The biggest trade following the primary liquidation was a trade that saw Austin Nola, a career minor league infielder that had recently converted to catcher, get shipped to San Diego in exchange for a package of four young players: Taylor Trammell, Ty France, Luis Torrens, and Andres Munoz.
Turning a career journeyman into a definitive talent and capitalizing on his value at a time of transition proved to pay dividends for the Mariners future as they acquired four starting-caliber players all under control for years to come.
The crucial aspect that truly solidifies Dipoto’s worthiness of an extension is his ability to implement a widespread player development team that can successfully cultivate talent at the Minor League level.
The current team has a top three farm system in the league and has seen early-round picks such as Kyle Lewis, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Emerson Hancock, and Brandon Williamson show sustained success while international signings such as Julio Rodriguez and Noelvi Marte headline the position players in the minors.
Dipoto’s regime has shown an innate ability to locate talent everywhere possible and successfully develop said talent into valuable assets the team can either further develop or trade for big league talent as soon as the time is right.
The ability to both acquire young talent and develop them into Major League caliber players are the two most important aspects of a rebuild and Jerry Dipoto proved he is more than capable of both.
With the team well ahead of schedule and fighting for a playoff chance, the farm system sitting pretty amongst the best in the league, and a payroll ready to expand in the coming offseason, it is clear that it is in the organization’s best interest to extend Jerry Dipoto and reward his front office regime with the chance to see the entirety of their vision through.