Jerry Dipoto Show: Mariners GM on free agents who ‘control the zone,’ Marcus Semien

Nov 10, 2021, 12:17 PM
Mariners A's Mark Canha...
Mark Canha of the Oakland Athletics homers against the Mariners on July 17, 2019. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

It can’t be all work and no play at an event held this week at the beautiful La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., this week, can it? Of course not.

Podcast: The Mariners Week That Was on 710 ESPN Seattle

The “play” was not of the golf variety but nonetheless fulfilling for Mariners general manager/president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto. The opportunity to drink coffee and share baseball stories with his peers all part of what he termed the “fun” of baseball’s annual GM meetings. The business side of the meetings, though, should be a different kind of fun for Dipoto, who enters the offseason with available resourses more plentiful than any other winter of his tenure with the Mariners.

“It’s been a very quick start to the natural offseason,” he said to Mike Salk on a special Wednesday morning edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto Show. “It’s the first time we have all seen each other face to face since 2019 really as a group, and that includes the player reps and the league officials. I do sense that it is moving pretty quickly and there are a lot of teams that came in here with payroll flexibility and big plans.”

While Dipoto has had face-to-face meetings with teams on potential trades and the representation of free agents of interest, he said it is not likely the Mariners will add a player before the meetings come to a close Thursday afternoon.

“I think it is more laying the groundwork,” he said. “These are places where you can get a trade done quickly, but the free agents, you are probably laying the groundwork more than you are completing a deal.”

And who could he be targeting? Salk attempted to add fuel to the hot stove fire by asking Dipoto which free agents best embody the “control the zone” qualities the Mariners put a premium on.

“There’s a number of them,” Dipoto answered. “I think the obvious guy that jumps to mind is Mark Canha, who has always been a good zone dominator. Swings at the right pitches, extends the at bats, draws a high walk rate, limits the punchouts, which are the different base traits you’re looking for. Michael Conforto is another guy who can really control the zone, Freddie Freeman obviously. There’s a lot of them on this free agent market. It’s a good time to be a buyer in an offensive state of this market.”

Salk also asked about a player the Mariners are known to have interest in: Marcus Semien, who is a finalist for AL MVP.

Related: What makes Mariners a “perfect fit” for Marcus Semien

“He does everything well,” Dipoto said. “In addition to being an incredibly well-rounded player, Gold Glove defender, great base runner, real power and he swings at the right pitches. You put those things together with good makeup and what I would say is extremely high intellect, there’s a lot of reasons to like Marcus Semien.”

Dipoto’s wish list is not limited to offensive players. Two starters need to be added with at least one likely to come from the free agent market. While not getting into names, Dipoto gave an indication that he could be open to a longer-term signing when Salk pointed out the risks that come with pitchers who are of the age of reaching free agency and looking for a bigger contract.

“You always have to balance the upside and the obvious risk associated with injury,” Dipoto said. “As you age, injury becomes a bigger factor. One of the things I have learned through the years is if you try to manage the risk too much, you won’t be bold enough to make decisions that can make a difference. You do have to embrace some risk and I think that is more true when you are talking about the pitchers than it is with the position players that historically are a little bit more stable even at that stage of their career.”

More on Salk’s conversation with Dipoto, including his thoughts on Scott Servais being a Manager of the Year finalist, a look at which GMs and executives he hangs out with at the meetings, and his approach to dealing with other clubs, can be found in the podcast.

The Jerry Dipoto Show will return to its regular time of 8:30 a.m. Thursday during 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show next week.

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