Drayer: Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto maintains budget flexibility by adding Ryon Healy to play 1B

Nov 15, 2017, 7:28 PM | Updated: 7:56 pm

Ryon Healy played his first full season in the majors in 2017 with the Oakland A's. (AP)...

Ryon Healy played his first full season in the majors in 2017 with the Oakland A's. (AP)


One year and three days after Jerry Dipoto acquired a first baseman from the A’s in exchange for a young pitcher, he did it again.

This time Dipoto sent Emilio Pagan as the main piece to Oakland in exchange for Ryon Healy, similar to how he used Paul Blackburn to get Danny Valencia in 2016. The move knocks first baseman off of the list of needs for the Mariners, and not just for the upcoming season.

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“For us to solve or put a first base in place after going year to year for some time as a question mark, we are hopeful that Ryon can step in and solve a good deal of that problem,” said Dipoto, who indicated that Healy will be used as a full-time first baseman and not in a platoon role. “He’s a good offensive player and gives us that right-handed power element.”

Healy, 25, comes to the Mariners after wrapping up his first full season in the big leagues, hitting .271/.302/.451 in 605 plate appearances with 25 home runs.

“That’s a pretty good start to a Major League career for a right-handed power hitter,” said Dipoto. “There’s no reason why just finishing his age-25 season that we have not seen the better years of Ryon Healy. I believe they are ahead of him. He’s hit in the minor leagues, the major leagues and he’s hit for power. Those are all encouraging things.”

Healy himself believes much was learned in his first full year in the majors and that he will have the chance to learn more surrounded by veterans in Seattle.

“Learning how much it really takes to compete at that level for 162 games,” Healy said, “learning how quickly teams can adjust to you and how much study and homework really goes into playing this game at this level, it was eye-opening and it was exciting because there is always room for improvement. I am excited to have the opportunity to be around guys who have done it for so many years and had so much success, and hopefully have the opportunity to learn from them to apply toward bettering myself as a big leaguer.”

While the Mariners pick up an everyday first baseman, they lose what proved to be a valuable contributor in the bullpen in 2017 with Pagan. While a it was a tough phone call for Dipoto to make – “Because of the kind of person he is, he’s just a wonderful human being,” Dipoto said – the move came from an area of strength with others who can fill Pagan’s role on the near horizon.

“We feel pretty good about the group we have,” he said. “Really big strides by Art Warren, Matt Festa and Max Povse this summer and fall (in the Arizona Fall League) have been really notable. We really like some of our draftees, guys like Seth Ellis and Wyatt Mills. Tony Zych. I feel like there is a really good group of guys from age 22 to 26 that are something from good impact in the quality of Edwin Diaz to knocking on the door to what we think of as future building blocks.

“That was an area of general depth for us and we decided we would turn some of that depth into a first baseman, which was an area where we were not quite as blessed.”

The move, which has been in the works since early October, gives Dipoto a good amount of payroll flexibility to address other needs as Healy is two years away from being arbitration eligible with five years remaining under club control. An outfielder and pitching help remain as key offseason needs for Seattle.

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Drayer: Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto maintains budget flexibility by adding Ryon Healy to play 1B