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Drayer: Are Mariners tearing down? They’re open for business, which is business as usual

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners were set for a tear down. (AP)

With one tweet Tuesday morning, the Mariners found themselves the talk of Major League Baseball.

While Jeff Passan’s report set off a firestorm of opinion on the Mariners Twitterverse and speculation from fans of other teams about who they could pick off the Mariners’ roster, a tweet from Jon Heyman perhaps doused some of the flames.

So just what is general manager Jerry Dipoto up to?

Business as usual.

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At his end of the year press conference, Dipoto was asked about the prospect of a full tear down. His answer was fairly definitive and in line with the Heyman tweet.

“We have to consider all things, but the likelihood of ever really truly considering a tear-down model, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said. “Guys like (Mitch) Haniger, like Marco (Gonzales), like Edwin Díaz, these are the pieces that you are trying to build around, not send away. We do have a nice group of young controllable players that we do intend to build upon.”

In talking with a number of sources Tuesday, the Mariners’ plans appear to remain building around young, controllable players. That doesn’t mean Dipoto wouldn’t listen on any player on his roster or that there isn’t a possibility that the team could open the season in Japan without one of those three players he called pieces to build around. A full tear down, however, appears highly improbable, which is why I asked at the postseason press conference if a step back – less extreme roster moves that would perhaps set the Mariners back a couple of years rather than five or more – was under consideration.

Dipoto’s answer?

“That has to be a consideration. Our goal is to win a World Series as soon as we can. If we are not going to win it in 2018, then our goal – starting with meetings this morning and as we move forward – is to determine what our best timeline is.”

So where does that leave the team right now? Well, open for business.

There will be plenty of additions to the Mariners’ roster this winter, with the vast majority being via trade. No surprise there. With a good amount of payroll taken up by players that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to move and a farm system bereft of valuable trade commodities, it seems the only way to bring back more players that could be added to the controllable core would be to trade from the Major League roster. And as Passan’s tweet would indicate, the word that Dipoto is willing to do so is out.

For many outside of Seattle, this is likely the first time they have heard that Dipoto would be willing to move anyone outside of the young trio. More specifically, the word is out they are willing to move James Paxton. For many this would indicate the team is in tear-down mode. “The Mariners are dealing their ace!” For those closer to home, the move would not be quite as dramatic. Now, pair that move with a trade of Haniger or Gonzales and I would call that tear-down territory.

Much remains to be seen to get a gauge on their true direction. If they do trade Paxton and others on the 25-man roster, what do they get back in return? Are they Major League-ready or prospects who are years out? What do the Mariners do with the dollars saved by moving those players? Invest in free agents or stock it away to use in the next few years?

A buzz has been created around the team at the GM meetings and that could be good for Dipoto. Whereas in years past his first quick-strike moves have appeared to have been very targeted, putting out the blanket “what’cha got” allows him to be creative, something he indicated he was prepared for back in early October when talking about Nelson Cruz.

“What the roster looks like as we go through the offseason, we can’t pin ourselves to one single idea or building around one single player,” Dipoto said. “We have to take more of a broad view of our roster than that.”

Moves will prompt other moves. A deal that can’t or shouldn’t be refused could be made for one of the three players Dipoto prefers to build around. Dipoto could go in a number of directions.

One thing is certain, the hot stove has been fired up.

Have a question you want answered by Mariners insiders? Ask it here, and it may be included in a mailbag video with Shannon Drayer and James “Boy Howdy” Osborn.

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