Jerry Dipoto Show: Julio Rodríguez has opportunity to make Mariners, offseason priorities

Oct 14, 2021, 10:53 AM
Mariners OF Julio Rodríguez...
Mariners OF prospect Julio Rodríguez of Team Dominican Republic reacts after a walk in the eighth inning against Team Republic of Korea during the bronze medal game of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)
(Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)

After an exciting 90-win season, all eyes are on the Mariners and what’s next for this young team.

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto joined Mike Salk for The Jerry Dipoto Show on 710 ESPN Seattle on Thursday to discuss some of the team’s plans going forward this offseason.

Last week’s Jerry Dipoto Show: How M’s can be sustainable, Kyle Seager’s future

During a press conference last week, Dipoto said that he felt the Mariners’ bench players “are already here.” He clarified what he meant by that during his conversation with Salk.

“I just think our bench players currently play for the Mariners. One of the things we want to make sure that we honor is that we have built a really likable core of players in the big leagues, and we also have a pretty robust farm system and developing talent,” he said. “While we don’t want to go into a season holding spots, so to speak – we want to put the most competitive major league team on the field as we can – we do want to provide an avenue for those young players to continue to grow and get opportunities and that can be seen entering through part-time roles or supporting roles rather than waiting to see when a young player shows up.”

Dipoto added that the Mariners don’t want to block players from opportunities, and that guys like Dylan Moore, Jake Fraley or even some propects could fall into that category.

“We want to make sure that’s fluid and we don’t lock in or lock out those young players.”

So with the bench seemingly set, Dipoto and his staff are focused on adding starting players.

“That’s the goal. We’re going to go out and search all the markets,” Dipoto said, referencing both free agency and trades. “We want to add talent and I did mention (previously) that our priority is making our lineup longer. We want to be a more consistent offensive team than we were this past year.”

Dipoto felt that the lineup gradually improved and got longer as the season went along and “now we would like to add something to the middle of it or to key portions or parts of our lineup that can start driving run scoring in a different direction.”

In addition to adding to the lineup, Dipoto told Salk that building up the Mariners’ starting pitching depth is also a focus for the team this offseason.

How about Julio?

Last offseason, the big question with the Mariners was whether top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic would break camp one of Seattle’s starting outfielders.

Next spring, the Mariners will have another top outfield prospect in that position: Julio Rodríguez, who spent his 2021 season between High-A Everett, Double-A Arkansas and even playing for the Dominican Republic in the Olympics, where Rodríguez won a bronze medal.

Rodríguez shined in 74 minor league games, slashing .347/.441/.560 with 13 home runs, 47 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and 43 walks to 66 strikeouts.

Dipoto was asked whether Rodríguez has an opportunity to make the Mariners’ opening day roster.

“There’s not a lot (more) he can do on the field, frankly. He had a wonderful minor league season,” Dipoto said of MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 overall prospect. “Right now he’s had about 1,000 plate appearances as a minor leaguer, which, for the elite level players, that’s about the time when they get on the major league radar. Sometime between 1,000 and 1,300 is when they start to pop up. Julio’s in that zone. He’ll come to major league camp with an opportunity to make the club.”

While Rodríguez does have a chance at making the Mariners’ opening day roster, some of that will come down to factors out of his control.

“The defining decision for Julio will primarily be based on how he performs early in spring in addition to whatever we do between now and then, because we do want to add to this team and we don’t want to (miss) the opportunity to get deeper,” Dipoto said. “And if that happens to slow down the arrival of some players, then that’s something we have to understand is part of the price of doing business this offseason, and that could effect Julio’s arrival.”

Listen to The Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.

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