Salk: Time for Mariners to let Dipoto spend money saved from Canó deal

Feb 12, 2022, 12:43 PM

Mariners Scott Servais Jerry Dipoto...

Mariners manager Scott Servais and GM Jerry Dipoto talk in the dugout before a 2021 game. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

After winning 89 games and falling short of the playoffs yet again in 2018, the Mariners and general manager Jerry Dipoto decided it was time to shake things up.

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Instead of trying to run it back with an expensive and aging veteran core, Dipoto and Co. decided it was time for a change and a rebuild was in order.

Dipoto and the Mariners front office made a number of deals to try and get salary off the books while adding young players and prospects who could help the team long-term.

But perhaps no deal got the franchise on the rebuild track better than Seattle’s deal with the New York Mets. In that trade, the Mariners  parted ways with All-Star second baseman Robinson Canó as well as All-Star closer Edwin Díaz, as well as some cash to help offset Canó’s contract. In return, the Mariners got two veteran players they’d soon deal away, reliever prospect Gerson Bautista,  starting pitching prospect Justin Dunn and, most notably, outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic, the Mets’ first-round pick from the 2018 MLB Draft.

Canó had a good 2020 season for the Mets, but he struggled in 2019 and missed all of 2021 due to a performance-enhancing drugs suspension. Díaz would also have a rocky 2019, but he’s been better since 2020.

For the Mariners, Dunn has had his ups and downs and his future as a starter is unclear, but Kelenic entered 2021 as a top-five prospect in all of baseball and while he struggled early on in his first taste of MLB action, finished 2021 on a very high note and clearly has All-Star potential.

While getting Kelenic was a big deal for the Mariners in their rebuild efforts, there’s something else about that deal that, roughly three years later, Mike Salk of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show is thinking about as he waits for the MLB lockout to end and for Seattle to make more additions to the roster.

Salk noted that Canó still has two years left on his contract, and while the Mariners are still chipping in some of that money, the Mets are on the hook for $20 million each of the next two seasons.

“What an unbelievable deal that was. Remember, he didn’t play at all last year because he was suspended for the second time, this time for the entirety of that season,” Salk said. ” … They’re now on the hook $20 million apiece for his age 39 and 40 seasons in New York. Thankfully, though, at least they have Edwin Díaz, who’s not good anymore. What a great trade Jerry Dipoto made. And honestly, we probably don’t give it enough credit. If Jarred Kelenic amounts to nothing, does nothing for the rest of his career, it was a (still) a great trade. How about that?”

Salk called the deal a “coup” for the Mariners, largely because Dipoto was able to offload most of Canó’s large salary.

“I mean they saved (roughly) $70 million. So good. I’m glad they did. I’m very happy for them,” Salk said. “You know what you need to now deal with the $70 million you saved? Invest it in the product.”

The Mariners had a notable offseason prior to the lockout, trading for All-Star infielder Adam Frazier and signing reigning American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to a roster that won 90 games last year. But Salk hopes that Dipoto’s efforts in saving the Mariners money in the Canó trade will be rewarded once the lockout ends.

“I would hope what Jerry at the time said is, ‘Hey, I’m going to make this deal for you. It’s gonna make us worse, obviously, in the short term, because Robbie Canó is still a pretty productive player. And Edwin Díaz might still end up being a productive player. I just want you to promise me one thing. When I save you $75 million or whatever the number is exactly, you reinvest it later when I need it,'” Salk said. “And I hope he’s coming back to them right now today(whenever) this offseason will continue and saying ‘Hey guys, remember the money I saved you? Remember that? I’ve got to go get Carlos Correa. I’ve got to get Carlos Rodón. I want to go make a good run at Kris Bryant.'”

“‘So I go spend it to make you better so that you can go make tons more money off the gate, off the television revenue, off everything you can do when you’ve got a winning team. I just need some of that money back that I saved you already,'” Salk added. “I hope that’s how that conversation is going. And I hope that the answer is, ‘Totally get it, absolutely, as promised, here you go.'”

Listen to the full fourth hour of Friday’s Mike Salk Show at this link or in the player below.

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