Dipoto: Mariners ‘open to anything’ that ‘adds impact’ at deadline with pitching the focus

Jul 21, 2022, 1:28 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm

Mariners Jerry Dipoto...

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto looks on before a game against the Houston Astros on April 15. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Aug. 2 MLB Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away and an active 14-game winning streak has the Mariners in prime position to be buyers.

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At 51-42, the Mariners leave the All-Star Break holding the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

With Seattle playing so well, holding a playoff spot, having one of the best farm systems in baseball as well as, of course, looking to end the longest active playoff drought in major North American professional sports, the Mariners can certainly make a splash and add to the MLB roster.

So what’s the plan at the deadline? And will the Mariners consider adding a superstar? President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto joined The Mike Salk Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM Thursday morning and gave a lot of insight into what is and isn’t in play for the Mariners at the trade deadline.

First of all, what could this deadline look like? Will any huge names be on the move?

“I don’t know,” Dipoto told Salk. “It’s still fairly ambiguous who’s available and who’s not.”

Because the MLB Draft occurred earlier this week, teams have been “in draft mode,” Dipoto said. With the draft wrapped up and teams returning to action Thursday and Friday, Dipoto thinks trade talks will start to gain more ground very soon.

“Our scouting group has been deployed. We’ve got targets that we’re actively going to go out and scout over the course of the next five to seven days,” Dipoto said. “And as soon as you blink, it’s going to be Aug. 2, and we’re going to have to make decisions on where we go. And my guess is that this year, the trade deadline, because of some of the nuances we’ve discussed in these last couple of weeks, that the real action – like was the case last year – will happen in the final 48 hours.”

While Salk and Dipoto didn’t mention him by name, Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto may be on the move this deadline, and the Mariners are reportedly a team that has interest in the slugging outfielder.

Salk asked Dipoto about the possibility of the Mariners adding a superstar talent at the deadline.

“I’m open to anything, and I know we are organizationally open to anything that helps us get better adds impact. There are there are potential opportunities, and we have to stay in tune with what they are,” he said.

“When you are in a position like we’re in, you have to be willing to consider everything,” Dipoto later added.

Dipoto said the Mariners are always self-evaluating players in their farm system, and that when it comes to blockbuster trades, there really aren’t any prospects in the minors who should be seen as “untouchable.”

“I will say that if you want to go to the top of the ‘available players food chain,’ there is no such thing as an untouchable player if you want to get involved in some of those conversations. And that’s the reality of it,” he said. “So you have to determine whether you’re willing to cross that line because the other team is not going to see it as, ‘Oh, they’re untouchable, we’ll go to the next guy.’ That’s just not how trade discussions work, especially at the deadline.”

Dipoto said that pulling off trades at the deadline is easier than during the offseason, especially because contending teams understand they have to give up a lot in order to make big splashes.

“The deadline is what it is. You know going in knowing that you are paying a tax because you are in a position of a contender, and you just accept that that’s part of the routine,” he said. “In the offseason, you’re trying as best you can to avoid paying that tax. The trade deadline market – especially today with the additional Wild Card team and with so many teams within shouting distance of a playoff spot – just means that fewer players are available. Those marquee names, those guys that do change or create immediate impact for a contender, they’re going to cost you, and you just have to understand that that’s part of the price of doing business.”

Something the Mariners – and other teams – have done in order to facilitate major deals is taking on more money in the form of additional contracts. What that does is allow teams to give up less in prospect capital by getting a large contract off the other team’s books. That happened this past offseason when the Mariners acquired 2021 All-Star Jesse Winker from the Cincinnati Reds while also acquiring Eugenio Suarez, who is signed through 2024 and is making over $10 million in each of those seasons (though the addition of Suarez has worked out tremendously well for Seattle this year).

Is taking on a bloated contract in addition to adding the targeted player something that’s in the cards for the Mariners? Dipoto said not to expect that.

“I think that’s more of an offseason thing than a trade deadline thing,” he said. “Those types of scenarios don’t play very often during the trade deadline discussions. That is typically more of a December discussion.”

The big need

While Mariners fans are buzzing about the team potentially going after Soto or even another bat to play second base, Dipoto made it clear what Seattle’s top need is this deadline.

“I’ll reestablish – and I said this last week – our biggest need or our primary objective going into this deadline is to find a way to add to our rotation,” he said.

Last week, Dipoto told Salk that the Mariners are looking for starting pitching help. And that’s not because the team doesn’t like who they have in the rotation.

Rather, the Mariners have a rookie in the rotation in George Kirby who has a limited track record of throwing a lot of innings since being drafted in 2019. Additionally, Seattle’s other four starters have made every scheduled start and have been healthy all season long, a rarity in today’s game. The Mariners have had just eight players make starts this season, and two of those were bullpen days due to doubleheaders.

Dipoto said the Mariners are open to adding to the rotation in multiple ways.

“If that means impact at the top and then some type of timeshare at the back, primarily because we want to help to manage George Kirby’s innings and not overtax him in the second half,” he said. “We also understand that the fortune of going through the first half with five healthy starters who’ve taken every turn and pitched as well as they have, we’re tempting fate if we don’t provide some help for that group. That’ll be our primary focus.”

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

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Dipoto: Mariners ‘open to anything’ that ‘adds impact’ at deadline with pitching the focus