Dipoto: Mariners have ‘magnetic draw’ for players after Julio extension
The Mariners took the baseball world by storm last week when it was revealed they inked superstar rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez to an extension that could pay him as much as $470 million and keep him in Seattle through 2039.
The full impact of that deal has yet to be determined, but Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto revealed the high hopes he has going forward during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
So what kind of recruiting pitch does Rodríguez and his contract give the Mariners when they talk to players considering signing with them or sticking with the team long-term?
“We have a great ballpark, we have a great city. And part of it was we needed to build the foundation of this team in such a way that it was sustainable,” Dipoto said. “I think we’ve done that, obviously, with this agreement and bringing Robbie Ray in and trading for Luis Castillo and recognizable major league performers. Ty France is now an All-Star, J.P. Crawford’s a Gold Glover, Geno (Eugenio) Suárez leads all big leaguers in homers since 2017. There’s a lot happening on our field that if you just flashback two years ago, it wasn’t really happening.
“And when you get a personality like Julio who sits at the center of it, it really does act as a magnetic draw. And whether that be through players wanting to stay here who are already here,or making the next acquisition, be it free agent or otherwise, I do think that it is a difference-making presence that he brings to the table. There’s a viability of where we are and where we intend to be as a franchise.”
Last week was a special one for Dipoto and the Mariners as not only did they ink up their franchise player, but they inducted Ichiro into the team’s Hall of Fame while also taking three of four from the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians.
“I really can’t imagine a more enjoyable week or remember one that was quite like that, outside of the final homestand last year when we were all having so much fun and so much lay in front of us,” Dipoto said.
As for Rodríguez’s deal specifically, the goal for both parties was clear, Dipoto said.
“In my mind, it is a unique chance to keep what we think is a super high-impact player who has generational talent in one city for the entirety of his career,” Dipoto said. “And it’s what Julio wanted, it’s what we wanted, and that was the first conversation we had. Not, ‘How do we sit down and work out a deal that keeps Julio here for a couple of extra years?’ We wanted to figure out a way to build pathways towards Julio always being a Mariner, and we were able to find a way that that could happen in an equitable way for all parties. He’s happy, we’re happy.”
Many of Rodríguez’s Mariners teammates were present at his press conference announcing the deal, and Dipoto said the team’s reaction to the contract speaks volumes about the kind of player, person and teammate the rookie All-Star is.
“I think the thing that I find most enjoyable about it is the way his teammates embraced it. It’s not always that way when a player gets a big contract,” Dipoto said. “There might be some animosity, there might be some jealousy. Our guys, they love him, and they were thrilled for him, and that is representative of how well liked Julio is in this clubhouse, which is another part of it.”
Something that was a big part of locking Rodríguez up for potentially his entire career is trust, Dipoto said.
“The word trust is something that (sports agent)n Ulises Cabrera, who represented Julio through this and did a great job on this contract, I shared that word with him, he shared it with me, we talked about that with Julio,” Dipoto said. “… And I’ve said it to Julio, he has always been a Mariner. We signed Julio when he was 16 years old. He has always been a member of our organization. And Ulises said something to me at the start of the negotiation that really kind of echoed throughout, which is that outside of Julio’s family, there’s no one who knows Julio better than the Mariners and Octagon (Rodriguez’s agency). And we were able to put together a contract that achieved our want to have him here for the duration, and it achieved his desire, which is to always be a Mariner.”
Being a Mariners is what Rodríguez knows, Dipoto said, and the rookie trusts the organization “as much as any player who’s ever come through our system.”
“I think that is because of what we’ve been able to help them do, but more importantly it’s a belief in one another that Julio has a way of connecting with people that’s just on a different level than many players that you’ll come across,” Dipoto said. “And we’re thrilled that he’ll be here and spread that to others because he’s a special guy outside of just being a special player.”
Listen to the full Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.