This is Jerry Dipoto’s second season as the Mariners’ GM. His first season was a flurry of trades, free agents and roster rotation that fundamentally changed the team. The M’s didn’t quite get to the promised land. Some of Jerry’s moves fizzled, but there is no denying there was considerable change in the big league team and the organization as the Mariners improved by 10 games and every minor league team made it to the playoffs.
The Cubs won their long-sought world championship on November 2, and Dipoto’s been off and running ever since. Not quite the tradin’ machine of 2015-16, but busy enough to keep things terrifically interesting.
Jul 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) leaves the dugout to start the inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Comin’-Clockwise from upper left: Jean Segura, Taylor Motter, Rob Whalen, Mitch Haniger, Chris Heston, Carlos Ruiz, Zac Curtis, Richie Schaffer, Mark Rzepczynski, Danny Valencia
I thought it might be fun just to keep track of everything he’s done in preparation for year two, because it’s easy to forget.
November 2-Mariners claim RHP Ryan Webber from Atlanta off waivers.
C Steven Barron, 2009 first round draft pick was released. Another first round pick bites the dust.
November 3-The Mariners picked up the option on OF/DH hitter Seth Smith.
The M’s do not pick up the options on C. Chris Iannetta and Nori Aoki. Aoki is signed by the Astros. Franklin Gutierrez, Drew Storen, Adam Lind, Iannetta and Dai-Ho Lee declare for free agency.
November 4-The Mariners assign LHP Charlie Furbush, RHP Ryan Cook, and C Steve Clevenger to AAA Tacoma. All decline their minor league assignments and opt for free-agency.
The M’s pick up left-handed pitcher Dean Kiekhefer of the Cardinals from waivers and added him to the 40-man roster.
November 7-The Mariners trade LHP Vidal Nuno to the Dodgers for C Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz will back up Mike Zunino, but in a recent interview Scott Servais explains the 38-year-old will play more than once a week.
November 9-Ryan Cook, injured all of 2016, changes his mind and signs a minor league contract.
November 12-Mariners trade AA RHP Paul Blackburn to the A’s for Danny Valencia. Valencia is a right-handed hitter who can play 1B, 3B, LF and RF. He is expected to platoon with left-handed 1B Dan Vogelbach
November 18-Mariners trade INF Dalton Kelley, RHP Andrew Kitteridge, and RHP Dylan Thompson to Tampa Bay for INF/OF Richie Schaffer and INF/OF Taylor Motter.
Mariners trade Zach Littell to the Yankees for LHP James Pazos
Mariners purchase the contracts of 1B D.J. Peterson, LHP Paul Fry and RHP Thyago Vieriera and add them to 40 man roster
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen designated for assignment. Stefan Romero is released.
November 23-The Mariners trade 2010 first-round draft pick RHP Taijuan Walker and 2B Ketel Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger and LHP Zac Curtis.
Mariners designate pitcher (both hands) Pat Venditte for assignment. Will clear waivers December 1, and be outrighted to minor leagues.
Mariners designate RHP Ryan Weber for assignment. Will clear waivers December 2 and be outrighted to minor leagues.
November 28-Mariners trade 2014 first-r0und draft pick OF Alex Jackson and a player to be named later to Atlanta for RHP Rob Whalen and RHP Max Povse. The M’s pull off a first-round liquidation trifecta.
December 5-Mariners sign C Jesus Sucre to avoid arbitration and keep in the minors as a back up catcher.
Mariners sign former Twins/Dodgers free-agent RHP Casey Fien.
Mariners sign former Colorado RHP Christian Bergman to a minor league contract
Mariners designate RHP Dean Kiekhefer for assignment, and will be outrighted to minors.
December 6-Mariners sign former A’s/Nationals free-agent LHP Marc Rzepczynski
Mariners designate RHP Zach Lee for assignment.
December 7-Mariners trade a player to be named later to Giants for RHP Chris Heston.
INF/OF Richie Schaffer designated for assignment
December 9-Mariners send LHP Tyler Pike to Atlanta to complete the trade for Rob Whalen and Max Povse. Pike pitched for High A Bakersfield in 2016.
Seattle Mariners’ Tom Wilhelmsen dances on the field after a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in Seattle. The Mariners won 4-1. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws against the Houston Astros in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) ORG XMIT: OTK
Outfielder Nori Aoki flies out to right in the bottom of the third as the Seattle Mariners play their annual Charity Game against the San Diego Padres for the first game of spring training in Peoria, Arizona, Wednesday March 2, 2016. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)
Mariners first baseman Dae-Ho Lee points skyward as he steps on home plate after his three run homer in the fourth inning against Tampa Bay, Tuesday, May 10, 2016, at Safeco Field in Seattle.
Goin’-Clockwise from upper left: Adam Lind, Chris Iannetta, Tom Wilhelmsen, Taijuan Walker, Dae-Ho Lee, Alex Jackson, Steve Baron, Ketel Marte, Franklin Gutierrez, Nori Aoki.
Things don’t stand still for very long in the Jerry DiPoto universe.
He’s made some important additions, obvious ones that the Mariners clearly needed.
- A change at shortstop that should address some of Ketel Marte’s defensive issues at shortstop. However, Jean Segura offers important offensive upgrades, including power, speed and on-base average, a real top of the order hitter the M’s haven’t had since Ichiro was traded.
- The addition of Danny Valencia’s proven right handed bat, together with enough defensive versatility and the ability to handle right-handed pitching to make him more than a platoon player.
- A reliable back up catcher in Carlos Ruiz who offers defensive and offensive capability, and can be counted on to catch 45-60 games.
- A quality left-handed reliever. Though Rzepczinsky isn’t the power lefty like Brett Cecil or Boone Logan DiPoto coveted, he is a quality lefty on lefty guy. Plus snagging Pazos from the Yankees offers the potential of the future power lefty.
- Hey but what about that number three starter dude who will offer lots of innings? Stay tuned, because I don’t think it will stay this way for long.
While we remember the big deals to bag Segura and Haniger, or Valencia, or grabbing Scrabble from the free-agent pot, there is lots of churn to build pitching depth the Mariners simply didn’t have last year. Adding Heston and Whalen to Cody Martin gives the M’s a little more to work with if something goes sideways with the major league rotation. The stack of Zach Lee, Ryan Webber, and Dean Kiekhefer got moved to the end of the line of available arms, but that’s three more guys to compete for jobs and at least add organizational depth. Though the pitching staff isn’t complete, it is definitely deeper than it was in 2016.