Mariners’ Dipoto: ‘We are going to add from the outside’
Oct 5, 2023, 12:34 PM | Updated: 12:37 pm
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Less than a week after the 2023 Seattle Mariners season ended in disappointing fashion, and two days after a controversial end-of-season press conference, team president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto hit the Seattle Sports airwaves to discuss his team falling short and what’s on tap this offseason.
After apologizing for comments from Tuesday and clarifying them to begin Thursday’s Jerry Dipoto Show, he then went through the plan to improve the Mariners’ roster after missing the playoffs.
“We are going to add from the outside,” Dipoto said. “I’ve said many, many times, we don’t hang up the phone on anything. Whether it’s free agents, it’s trades, we’re trying to find the right pieces. We’d like to find one more bat that fits in the middle of our order. That’s an important thing to for this roster.”
This was clearly a priority for Dipoto to mention on Thursday, as even before the questions turned to the offseason, he touched on the need to add to the roster while he was clarifying his comments from earlier in the week.
“We do feel like this roster is built to be a championship roster moving forward, and now we need to go out and we need to add more pieces and find the extra offense,” he said. “Find a way to solve some of our needs, but recognize that we continue to get better in a lot of ways.”
Dipoto stressed a few times during the interview that the Seattle Mariners have a young team that’s continuing to grow. Many of those players are younger guys the Mariners have developed internally, or at least acquired when they were young. But Dipoto also made sure to point out that Seattle has added All-Star veterans in recent years, whether through free agency with 2022 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, the blockbuster trade and subsequent long-term extension for current ace Luis Castillo, or last year’s offseason trade for one year of slugger Teoscar Hernández, who is now set to be a free agent.
“Along the way, like we did with Luis Castillo and like we did with Robbie Ray and like frankly how it turned out with Teo, we will constantly try to add impact talent to help push us over that next level,” Dipoto said. “And sometimes it’ll be long term like (with Castillo) and sometimes it’ll be more of a short-term hit. But the goal is to consistently put as big a talent as we can out on the field because we feel like the foundation of this team is entering the peak of its potential. And we’re not doing it for a year – we want to do this for many years. We want to win championships over time.”
The Cal and J.P. comments
Something that naturally came up during the course of the conversation were the comments made by catcher Cal Raleigh and shortstop J.P. Crawford last weekend about the Mariners needing to add more talent this offseason.
“Cal has his opinions and he is free to share them. That is true of all of our players. And we don’t begrudge them that,” Dipoto said. “… He doesn’t want to walk back the idea that we need to improve and find ways to get better and to win. And with that, we were in full agreement, and I can’t express it in a different way.”
Dipoto added that players “should ask questions” about the future of the organization.
“Our players need to focus on what’s happening in the moment on the field, and if along the way, me and (general manager Justin Hollander) and our front office and our scouting group can deliver them the freight train that can come through and join the middle of the lineup, I would love to do that,” he said. “But I can’t tell Cal, I can’t tell J.P., I can’t tell them we will deliver that to you because there are two roads. There are two people involved in that decision.”
Dipoto also stressed that he doesn’t believe the Mariners are far off from winning the American League West. Seattle finished 88-74 this year, two less wins than both the AL West champion Houston Astros and wild card Texas Rangers.
“We don’t have a huge gap to close,” he said. “… We need to fill out a roster that makes more sense than the one that I put together to start the season. So we’ll get back after it and do the best that we can.”
The right pieces seem to be centered around the lineup, which was very up and down in 2023.
“We’d like to find one more bat that fits in the middle of our order. That’s an important thing for this roster,” Dipoto said. “Obviously, we have to address the situation with Teo. We go into the offseason with him staring at free agency, and that’s a decision that has to be made. And minimally, that’s a spot we’ll need to fill, be it Teo or someone else. We don’t feel like there are a ton of holes on this team.”
Also regarding free agency, Dipoto seemed to allude to two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, who is set to hit the market after spending the last six years with the Los Angeles Angels.
“I can’t tell you that we’re gonna go sign the greatest free agent that’s ever lived because I don’t know if that person is willing to be here. Every street has two ways, and we have to understand that,” Dipoto said, later adding, “Would I love to stumble into the biggest stars in the universe that are that are happy to come play in Seattle? Sure. And I think we have some. I think we have some that are developing on our roster. I know we have some All-Star-type talents that are developing in our system. And we will be diligent in our attempts to go out and acquire players like that. But teams are made up of 26 players. It’s not a one-man show. I would love, love, love to be 110-win team that’s running off like a juggernaut with stars at every position. I just don’t know that that’s possible.”
When looking back on the 2023 Mariners, Dipoto thought a “good team” fell short. He agreed with a sentiment from manager Scott Servais that the team “lacked the clutch gene.”
“The thing that we have done so well for many years … we’ve always been very good at converting the one-run wins, winning those tight games at the end and in the extra innings (with) the big hit in that big moment. We just didn’t have that gene this year,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s reflective of the talent of our players. It might be reflective of the fact that we may have been a player short on on the roster construction. And again, that’s something I need to resolve.”
Are M’s willing to trade prospects?
Dipoto was asked whether the Seattle Mariners are in a spot where they can trade some of their better prospects to help the MLB roster without depleting the farm system.
“We’re willing to cede some of that minor league talent to achieve what we want to achieve in the here and now, because we believe that our window is open,” he said. “What we won’t do is we won’t go out and make many trades that empty our system of the talent that we think is going to allow us to continue to sustain this. That’s something that we’ve all discussed. Adding big league talent and roster development, you are constantly churning, and the goal is to put the best 26-man roster that you possibly can together. And in some ways, you’re then going out and focusing on the execution.”
“But in the here in the now, we have payroll flexibility going into next year, we have talent, and it’s a matter of whether those two things line up,” Dipoto added. “I think the the idea that we have continually gotten better, we try very hard to be thoughtful in what we’re doing because we want this not just to be an exercise for 2022 and 2023. We want this to be 2024 and well beyond, and I do think that we have the talent both at the major and minor league levels to make that happen.”
You can hear the full Jerry Dipoto Show from Thursday in the podcast at this link or in either of the video and audio players near the top of this post.
More on the Seattle Mariners
• Salk on comments by Mariners’ Jerry Dipoto: Fans want a banner, not a favor
• Drayer’s Notebook: Reaction to what Cal said, injury updates
• Remembering sportswriting great Jim Caple – By Christian Caple
• Four Takes: Reaction to Seattle Mariners player comments after missing playoffs