If you want to get a look inside the head of Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto, take a look at this article by David Laurila on FanGraphs. It’s a great read and emphasizes a bit more specifically the things we’ve already heard in interviews: the use of analytics in roster construction and how they will contribute to developing a run-prevention strategy, and a little bit of a look at how it might differ from the 2008-9 Jack Zdurencik/Tony Blengino model. This is must read stuff.
And we’re seeing practical evidence of this in the rumors and activity we see coming out of the annual GM meetings. There are no rumors the M’s are in on the big free agents available with or without qualifying offers. There is no discussion of a big bat.
Rather the rumors have swirled around potential trade partners as the Mariners seem to have dangled James Paxton for bait. The lure is for the centerfielder the M’s need. The names: Peter Bourjos of the Cardinals, Leonys Martin of the Rangers, or Jackie Bradley, Jr. of the Red Sox. The big name is Yankee Brett Gardner. All are good defenders, though Gardner offers more offensively. My guess is nothing happens until Hisashi Iwakuma’s future is known, because losing Paxton blows another big hole in the rotation.
But there’s been action too. Last week, sneaking in as a stealth acquisition, the M’s picked up outfielder Dan Robertson off the waiver wire. The diminutive Angel may not amount to much, but in an organization without outfielders, he offers a little bit of insurance in the event of injury.
Yesterday the M’s announced they’d re-signed Franklin Gutierrez. I could hear the clearing from the corner of Edgar and Dave all the way to Cheney Stadium and out to South Hill. Today Bob Dutton tweeted DiPoto’s confirmation that Seth Smith and Guti would form the much expected platoon. I could not be happier.
And today the M’s announced a trade with the Padres for 38 year-old right handed reliever Joaquin Benoit for a pair of young players in the low minor leagues. He’s been pretty darned effective from the back end of the bullpen and has closer experience if needed. Benoit’s pretty costly at $7.5 million, but he also offers a modicum of stability. And the Mariners may not be done with the bullpen.
Look we’re still pretty early in the Hot Stove League. The Mariners still are unsettled in their rotation with Iwakuma or suitable replacement unsigned. But the addition of Nate Karns is a great first step. They’ve bolstered the bullpen with Benoit. And they haven’t deviated from DiPoto’s stated philosophy of run prevention. So far so good.