Major League Baseball executives tend to speak in code, especially when they are in front of the cameras. Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners' president of baseball operations, is no different. He met with the media yesterday during the annual General Managers' meetings and offered his thoughts in an interview with long-time MLB insider Jon Morosi. It's time for "Parsing Dipoto."
Contact is the flavor of the offseason
Dipoto had until 5 pm EST on Monday to offer slugger Teoscar Hernandez the Qualifying Offer, which would've accounted for $20.35M for one season. He chose to pass on bringing Hernandez back. Why would he let 26 homers and 93 RBIs walk out the front door? Look no further than his 211 strikeouts, which was a career-high. Dipoto specifically mentioned wanting to create a lineup that strikes out less.
The Mariners were second in Major League Baseball in strikeouts, and they already have some players locked in with some swing-and-miss (Kelenic, Raleigh, Rodriguez). Who's the most accessible player to jettison and remove some strikeouts? Teoscar Hernandez.
This narrative also sheds some light on players Dipoto could look toward to augment the offense. High-contact bats in free agency and the trade market include Cody Bellinger, Jeimer Canderlario, Brendan Donovan, and Shohei Ohtani.
Mariners still high on Kelenic
Toolsy outfielder Jarred Kelenic kicked off his 2023 campaign with a bang, carrying the Mariners for the first three months of the season. Kelenic played in 105 games, authoring a career-best .253/.327/.746 slash line amounting to 2.0 WAR. That's a solid year, despite a self-inflicted injury in a battle with a water cooler.
Yesterday, Dipoto talked about Kelenic's growth in 2023 and sees another year of growth in 2024 for the wired-up outfielder. Dipoto also praised the Mariners' young lefthanded bats Dominic Canzone, Cade Marlowe, and, yes, Jarred Kelenic. Something tells me the 23-year-old wunderkind is safe.
Logan isn't going anywhere
Go to Google and type "Logan Gilbert Trade" in the search box. You'd be surprised about the amount of content mentioning the other 31 MLB teams wanting to steal Gilbert away from the Mariners. Some articles state that Dipoto was actively floating Gilbert on the trade block. Morosi specifically asked Dipoto about Gilbert, and he offered glowing hyperbole.
"He cares more about getting better every day than most players you'll come across, and that is a special quality. He's incredibly smart and an exceptional teammate."- Jerry Dipoto on Logan Gilbert
He talked about Gilberts' buy-in into the Mariners' philosophy and how he's a leader on this team. Dipoto could be inflating the 25-year-old hurlers' value in the trade market, or he could be thrilled with a fundamental building block for a team built on run prevention. My guess is it's the latter.
The hot stove is just getting warmed up. The annual GM meetings are usually the tip of the iceberg when formulating trades and signing free agents, and we don't need to parse Dipoto to know that it's a huge offseason for the Mariners.