Jerry Dipoto previews the Mariners’ 2023 trade deadline path

Jun 1, 2023, 12:59 PM | Updated: 1:04 pm

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Jerry Dipoto...

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais in March. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are entering the third month of the 2023 MLB season, and it’s clear that with a 29-27 record despite a dominant pitching staff, they need some offensive help.

ESPN’s Kurkjian expects Seattle Mariners to be ‘aggressive’ in trades

That’s obviously not lost on Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners’ president of baseball operations.

“We will go into the trade deadline part of this season looking for a bat, wherever that that might fit,” he said Thursday during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports.

Dipoto provided an in-depth look at how the Mariners will approach the market before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, as well as what he expects the next couple months to look like when it comes to matters behind the scenes, during his conversation with Mike Salk. Let’s dig into what he shared.

What are the Seattle Mariners’ next steps?

Salk asked Dipoto what is on the plate for he and M’s general manager Justin Hollander. The answer?

“Picking up the phone, getting in touch with the other 29 clubs,” Dipoto said. “We’re in June now. This is the month where we start making our blanket phone calls as to what teams are planning headed into the trade deadline, and it’s probably going to be a pretty busy three weeks in that regard.”

The reason for that is the MLB Draft, which will take place during the All-Star break beginning with the first round on Sunday, July 8 at Seattle’s Lumen Field. The draft used to take place in early June but was moved to mid-July in 2021, which has impacted activity on the trade market in recent years.

“Once teams start their draft meetings, which will probably happen for most clubs about the third week of June, those (trade) calls will slow for a little bit,” Dipoto said. “So the next three weeks is a big check-in phase. We’ll find out who’s willing to do what, and you generally share with the other clubs what it is you’re looking to do and some of the issues you may have. Somebody is inevitably going to ask you what your surplus is, and 29 clubs will answer, ‘I’m not sure we have surplus, but this is what we need.'”

It doesn’t sound like the Mariners will be limited in what kind of bats they target, at least when it comes to the positions they play.

“You can’t really focus on positions. Especially in July, that’s very difficult to do. You don’t know who’s going to be available or what,” Dipoto said. “So we’d like to create length in our lineup. I think our pitching staff, again, has been incredible, and fingers crossed health will be as as much our friend as it has been in years past and we’ll continue to do the things we’re doing. But for us, it’s all about offense. We’re gonna get some help back internally here with Andrés Muñoz and Dylan Moore, and hopefully that helps, but it’ll be a fun month for us as we hopefully continue to play well and find the ways to get better moving forward.”

That leads us to the next question.

Will the Mariners’ play impact their trade pursuits?

Salk asked Dipoto that if the M’s “play better,” will they then “go bigger” before the trade deadline? Dipoto pointed back to last season when Seattle acquired Luis Castillo, seen as the best pitcher on the market at the time, and then inked him to a long-term extension to emphasize how the M’s approach trades in general.

“I’m not sure you can go bigger than ‘The Rock’ at the deadline,” Dipoto said, referring to Castillo by one of his nicknames, “and we did that a year ago. I think that is more representative of our mindset, is that when we go big, we go big for players that we feel like are going to be here for a sustained period of time. And in Luis’ case, we talked about this, minimally we were getting the 2022 season and 2023, and we thought we had the chance to keep him here and then that wound up being the case.”

Dipoto said the M’s won’t rule out making deals for players nearing the end of their contracts, but as usual that won’t be their preference.

“We won’t turn our eyes from the expiring contracts, potential free agents. We’re just unlikely to view that as the big get,” he said. “Pouring it out for a short-term rental player doesn’t make sense for us just in terms of how we build our roster, or philosophically. So think more like if it’s big, it’s going to be a player that’s sustainable. If not, we’ll try to do those small, I guess, under-the-hood type trades that wind up being a lot better than you think.

“Anything is open to us right now simply because we know what we want to do to get better, we just have to find the right dance partner to do it.”

Don’t be surprised if you’re surprised

There have been multiple trades made during Dipoto’s time in Seattle that people didn’t see coming, and he said something that may shed a light on why that tends to happen – and could happen again this season.

“We also have a fair bit of conversation with clubs about players that you might not think are as available,” he said. “… Those are the trades that we generally spend more of our time on. Sometimes they come to fruition and sometimes they don’t, but we tend to spend a little bit more of our time focusing on what this does for the Mariners in 2023 and moving forward, because what we are attempting to build, and I think the foundation we’ve laid is suggestive of, is that we want this to be the long game. We want to win year in and year out, and we feel like we’re on the right path to do that.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. each Thursday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Listen to this week’s edition in the podcast below.

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