Jerry Dipoto addresses how Mariners may find a fit in SS free-agency class

Oct 21, 2021, 1:30 PM | Updated: 1:44 pm
Mariners Semien Crawford...
J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners steals second base as Marcus Semien of the Oakland Athletics can't handle the throw on Sept. 27, 2020. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There’s a big class of free agents at shortstop expected to be available this offseason, and the Seattle Mariners are believed to be in the conversation for some of those names, according to an article by ESPN’s Buster Olney published Wednesday.

But wait – don’t the Mariners have a pretty good shortstop in 2020 Gold Glove winner J.P. Crawford?

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Yes they do. And Jerry Dipoto, Seattle’s general manager and president of baseball operations, is making sure that is clear.

“We have a shortstop that we love,” he told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show on Thursday morning. “J.P.’s our shortstop and we feel like he is an anchor on our infield and an emotional leader for our team.”

Dipoto, however, wasn’t ruling out the Mariners being a player in the market for the big free agents whose primary position is shortstop, where All-Stars Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien and Javier Báez are all set to be available. Instead, he went on to explain how Seattle may look to sign one of those players so long as they fit some criteria. Most importantly, a willingness to play a position other than shortstop.

“One of the things that’s important to us is finding a player who is adaptable and willing to move around the field and maybe get a little uncomfortable,” Dipoto said.

That’s where it gets interesting, because Dipoto then specifically mentioned two players.

“And there’s some of those guys that already have done that in their career,” he continued. “Guys like Semien and Báez have done that, and that kind of selflessness is a big deal for us.”

Semien, a longtime Oakland A’s shortstop, had a breakout 2021 season after joining the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency, hitting a career-high 45 home runs and 102 RBIs to go with a .265/.334/.873 slash line. What makes him most intriguing as a possibility for Seattle, though, is while he only played shortstop in his six years with Oakland, he played 145 games at second base compared to just 21 at short this season. He also has prior experience at third base during two seasons early in his career with the White Sox.

Báez, similar to Semien, went to a new team in 2021 and accepted a move to second base. He was the Cubs’ starting shortstop from 2019 until he was traded to the Mets in July, and he played 35 games at second compared to 12 at short for New York. He has even more experience at second than Semien, playing there primarily for the first five seasons of his career, and also has a little experience at third and in the outfield.

For Dipoto, if any of the marquee free-agent shortstops express a willingness to play elsewhere in the field, it would be meaningful in another way.

“We want to know that the person fits in our clubhouse with our group,” he said. “… (To accept a position change) also speaks well of how the player will fit in our clubhouse.”

So what else would could one of those shortstops offer the Mariners?

“One thing that they bring to the table is they bring postseason experience. That’s also an element that we are not – I guess we’re not going to be dumb to this offseason. We know where we want to go, and the more we can add players who have been there, the better off we are.”

You can listen to the full episode of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.

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