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Notebook: Slow start to Mariners’ offseason shouldn’t last much longer

Jerry Dipoto and the rest of baseball's GMs are present at their annual meetings in Orlando. (AP)

This has officially been a slow start to the offseason for Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto.

By this time last year, he had made his first trade acquiring Danny Valencia from the A’s for starter Paul Blackburn. Two years ago by this date he had dealt Brad Miller, Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar to the Rays for Nathan Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser and Boog Powell, and he’d also acquired Joaquin Benoit from the Padres for two minor leaguers. This year so far: just a couple of waiver claims.

Cruz wins Silver Slugger | What we know about Shohei Ohtani

That no doubt will change soon as the GM Meetings got underway Monday in Orlando. While the 30 GMs have a full agenda of issues to tackle in the annual meeting, there is the opportunity to touch base with other clubs as well as agents to get the ball rolling on future deals.

Heading into Year 3 under Dipoto, the Mariners’ offseason needs are fewer than previous years. Listed as priorities by Dipoto are finding a replacement for the Valencia/Yonder Alonso combo at first base, adding an outfielder and upgrading the pitching. A backup catcher will need to be found, too, and while Dipoto has already added Andrew Romine via waivers, a utility player is another area he could look to upgrade.

For now, the 40-man roster stands at 35.

Stanton joins Cruz in the DR

From the this-is-great-to-see-for-multiple-reasons department:

Good to see Nelson Cruz doing good, but that is what he does when he is not swinging a bat. Also great to see Mariners CEO John Stanton in the middle of this, but again not surprising to see him support such actions.

What you may not know is that visiting Cruz in his home town is not just a matter of dropping into Santo Domingo and heading to a nearby ball field. After manager Scott Servais visited Cruz at his home last offseason, he recounted a long and at times harrowing car ride to the more remote part of the island where Cruz resides. It takes effort to get there and while my favorite thing about the picture may be the little ones all wearing Mariners Cruz jerseys, the value of having the CEO show such support of a key player who is a year away from free agency does not go unnoticed.

The Cruz signing before the 2015 season has been a huge success for the Mariners and the relationship is one they would like to see extended past next year. Cruz, who will play his age-37 season in 2018, has one year remaining on his four-year, $57 million dollar contract. What could a potential contract for a 38-year-old designated hitter look like? There will be a need for creativity on this one, but Boston’s final contract with David Ortiz (who was 38 in 2014) could serve as at least a partial blueprint.

Notes

• Cruz and Stanton not the only Mariners up to good this offseason.

For more on former Husky Braden Bishop’s work in fighting Alzheimers, check out this story on MLB.com.

• For your planning purposes, the deadline for MLB free agents to accept qualifying offers from their previous teams is Thursday at 2 p.m.

• Carlos Beltran announced his retirement Monday morning, leaving Bartolo Colon as the only active player remaining who played in the Kingdome. If that doesn’t make you feel old, maybe this will: Colon and Adrian Beltre are the only players who debuted in the 1990s who remain active.

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