After his 11th trade of the offseason, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto may – may – be done.
“You may not hear from us again,” he said with a laugh on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
In his second two-trade day in less than a week, Dipoto first sent pitchers Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows to the Braves for outfielder Mallex Smith and pitcher Shae Simmons, then shortly after it was announced that Smith along with pitcher Ryan Yarbrough and infielder Carlos Vargas had been traded to the Rays for left-handed starter Drew Smyly.
One day, two trades, and two major roster needs filled.
Smyly, who is under club control through the 2018 season, takes a spot in the rotation, giving the Mariners five starters with considerable experience. And the competition for the fifth starter spot has turned into an opportunity to make a good impression for most of the younger starters.
The other need filled is a second lefty in the bullpen, as Ariel Miranda most likely moves from the rotation to fill that spot due to Smyly’s arrival.
“The great likelihood is we will now look at Ariel along with James Pazos and Zac Curtis, others, as a second lefty in our pen,” Dipoto said, admitting Miranda would have a considerable edge in that competition with his experience.
The rotation now features Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Yovani Gallardo and Smyly, and there is considerable depth behind them. While Dipoto may not have had the prospects to put together a package for one of the marquee names we saw moved in trades this offseason, he has been able to put together a staff that, at a minimum, should be able to provide the innings needed to compete.
It has been clear from his first day in Seattle that Dipoto looks at a pitching staff as a whole – not just those who are on the 25-man roster, but the 40-man depth as well – and his first job is to provide the innings needed for an entire season. It appears he has done that, in a most interesting, or perhaps more accurately a most Dipoto way.
The two deals we saw didn’t just happen Wednesday. Smyly has been a target the entire offseason.
“I probably have spent more time throughout the course of our offseason trying to acquire Drew Smyly more than anything we have done,” Dipoto said.
And it turns out there had also been numerous conversations with the Braves about Mallex Smith, who fits the description of the type of young player Dipoto has been targeting.
“Once we made the additions of Mitch Haniger and later Jarrod Dyson, it made Mallex more of a repetitive player for us, but we were able to connect the dots on this trade as a result of staying in touch with those two teams,” he said.
“Maybe my hyperactivity perhaps paid off.”
And perhaps there is now time to rest before he hops in the car to drive to Peoria for spring training in less than a month. Dipoto all but guaranteed, with the exception of possible smaller moves, that the heavy lifting is done.
“This is our team,” he said. “Our five starters are already in house, we like the depth we have created in back of them. The position players, we like the mix of veteran core players and a group of upcoming athletic young players that really complement one another really well.”
Dots connected, roster in place – for now.