Jerry Dipoto Show: How Mariners can be sustainable, Kyle Seager’s future
The Mariners’ magical run ended last weekend with a 90-72 record and a lack of a postseason berth.
Fans were buzzing for the team in the final week-plus of the season, and are naturally very excited about what the next steps are for the Mariners.
As he did every Thursday during the season, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto joined 710 ESPN Seattle for a morning chat about the team and its future on The Jerry Dipoto Show.
Here’s a bit of what Dipoto had to say during his final chat of 2021 with Mike Salk.
What stood out in 2021?
“That they’re fighters,” Dipoto said of the 2021 Mariners. “The determination that this group has. Actually in a conversation I had with Jarred Kelenic on Sunday night, I talked about his specific style of determination, but I could easily use that to categorize this team. It was so fun to watch how hard they would come back and the ‘never say die’ attitude and grind they would show. When you have the kind of talent that our group has and you are that determined – and we are still very young and these were incredibly valuable experiences. To take that and couple it with that characteristic of determination and I think there’s a special thing happening here.”
How to be sustainable
During Dipoto’s previous visit with Salk, he’d said that he thought the Mariners still had work to do in order to be a sustainable team when it comes to winning 90-plus games each season.
So in this most recent conversation, Salk asked him how the Mariners can be that type of club.
The answer? Outside help, namely at the plate.
“I think we have to go to the market. We have to improve the depth of our lineup,” he said. “I think it goes without saying that over the course of the season we were at times challenged in terms of our nine-man lineup and scoring, really. We can’t always rely on the heart and determination that we showed at the end of the games. If we can go to the market – whether that’s free agency or trades or some combination of both – we would (like) to add offense to this team and we’d like to look for more starting pitching as everybody else will.”
Dipoto said the Mariners are “comfortable” with where the bullpen is at and that the team has “foundational pieces” on the roster along with players who grew tremendously in 2021, but outside help is needed.
“It’s a good free-agent market to be able to do that and hit areas of need for us,” Dipoto said. “There’s also the opportunity with the depth in our farm system to graduate players or find fits with other teams (in a trade).”
Dipoto said it is unclear whether the offseason will be impacted by a potential lockout as MLB players and owners negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
“But we’re going to approach it as if it’s any other year and get out and start recruiting the free agents that we think fit for us very early on and see if we can sell somebody on the city of Seattle and what’s happening with this young team,” he said.
And with the team on the rise, Dipoto is excited to have a different offseason approach than the last few years.
“I’m most excited about talking to good players about playing for a good team in Seattle,” Dipoto said. “In recent years as we’ve been going through this rebuild we have often times tried to find I guess diamonds in the rough. We will continue to operate in that area because we’ve found star-like contributors for our team in those spaces. But (I’m excited) to go out and talk to really good players with resumes at the major league level and see how they fit with the Mariners … That’s what I’m looking forward to as those conversations and it’s a lot of fun to talk to players about what we have going on and I think there are a lot of players around the league that saw what happened here this last week and especially on the weekend. There was a buzz in Seattle and it caught baseball by surprise rather than just the city.”
Kyle Seager’s future
Something that most are expecting this offseason is for the Mariners to decline third baseman Kyle Seager’s club option for 2022, which would make the long-time Seattle third baseman a free agent for the first time in his career.
Part of that is because of the emotional display we saw in the Mariners’ final game, but also because Seager recently told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that he and Dipoto haven’t spoken in roughly four years, not even when passing each other in the hallway. He also said that Dipoto hasn’t spoken to his agent, either.
Salk asked Dipoto about those comments, and Dipoto said that’s not the case.
“I understand Kyle’s emotions and I don’t want to get into a ‘he said, she said,’ but we’ve had conversations,” Dipoto said. “We had a conversation in the spring talking about this season and the possibility that it could be his last in Seattle and his legacy.”
Dipoto said it came after the infamous comments made by ex-team president Kevin Mather came to light, and that he talked to Seager to apologize.
Dipoto also said that Seager’s future could still be with the Mariners for next season.
“I think Kyle’s had a wonderful career here,” he said. “And the fact of the matter is we’ve not yet determined what we’re going to do moving forward. We still have meetings to sit down with and these are not decisions that I feel comfortable making unilaterally. We’ll discuss and analyze and we have until after the World Series to make that determination, and we’ll do it.”
Dipoto said he has also spoken to Seager’s agent “at intervals that they dictate,” and that he feels bad Seager doesn’t remember their conversation back in spring training.
“And I hope that he doesn’t remember the negative going out the door, because it should be a wonderful thing for him, especially (what happened in the season finale),” Dipoto said.
Listen to The Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.