SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners notebook: Jerry Dipoto makes first comments since Shohei Ohtani’s decision

Dec 11, 2017, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:20 pm
General manager Jerry Dipoto's priority for the Mariners is pitching. (AP)...
General manager Jerry Dipoto's priority for the Mariners is pitching. (AP)
(AP)

Jerry Dipoto held the first of what will be daily media sessions for the Winter Meetings with the members of the Mariners media who traveled to Orlando on Monday afternoon. Full disclosure, I am not there but as they do with most media gatherings, the Mariners have made that audio available. Of interest of course were Dipoto’s first comments to the news that Shohei Ohtani chose to play for the Angels.

Drayer: Where the Mariners go moving on from Ohtani

“Clearly disappointed,” Dipoto said. “Just like 29 other clubs, we worked hard and put together what we thought were presentations that best represented the Mariners, and he made his choice. And I’m happy for him. It’s a big thing for any player to be able to select where they want to go play. I’m sure that it’s going to work out great for him. He’s a fantastic player and I’m sure it is going to be a great fit.”

After all was said and done, Dipoto said there was no second guessing on his part.

“We always felt we had a shot. We were definitely very public in our willingness to try and run him down. We felt very comfortable with the process. I thought CAA (Ohtani’s agency) did a great job. I am going to give Shohei Ohtani a ton of credit that he sat through seven fairly lengthy interview sessions and he stayed in tune with what each team was talking about. I know he was in tune with what we were talking about. In the end he sorted through the information and made the decision he was comfortable with. I can’t fault him. That’s his choice to make. We played it the way we wanted to play it.”

The loss of Ohtani brings the Mariners’ main need of pitching even more into focus. Dipoto has stressed  – from the onset of the offseason to his conference call late last week – the pitching he is seeking could be of the rotation or bullpen variety. He stressed that again Monday, stating that he was comfortable with the Mariners’ top four starters of James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez, and that he liked the flexibility that Ariel Miranda, Andrew Moore and Marco Gonzales could bring to the five spot.

“We are staying open-minded to that,” he said of what he currently has available in the starting staff. “That being said, that is all contingent on finding impact in the bullpen. If we can’t find impact in our bullpen, then we will refocus on the starting rotation. We want to find the most impactful way to make our 12- or 13-man staff better.”

Pitching will be brought in, perhaps as soon as this week.

“I can’t say it’s imminent,” Dipoto said, “but I feel like we’re at least in a deal-making zone in at least one case and hopefully we can bring it across the line while we are here.”

As for Seattle’s position players, Dipoto is all but done. He could add players from the waiver wire or with minor league signings, but he sees that side of roster filled. There will be an open competition for the final spot on the bench and it appears the backup catcher job will go to either Mike Marjama, David Freitas or Tuffy Gosewisch.

“We like our group,” said Dipoto. “We’re going to have to find a way to make it better because we have a big gap to make up with the Astros, but there is a not shying away from the idea of being a contender, because we think we are.”

Notes:

• A couple of low-key roster moves were made over the last 24 hours. On Sunday the team released right-handed pitcher Seth Frankoff so he could play in Korea. Frankoff was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in early September. On Monday the team claimed outfielder Cam Perkins off waivers from the Phillies. The 40-man roster is at 37.

• The Mariners are also reported to have re-signed Gordon Beckham to a minor league deal, pending a physical.

• Dipoto revealed that the majority of the Mariners position players are working out together is Miami. It was an idea brought up by Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano at the end of last season and Nellie reportedly organized the minicamp of sorts. Check out the link of Dee Gordon getting work in center.

• It has been a good three days for Edgar Martinez on the Hall of Fame ballot front. Edgar went 9 for 9 this weekend and today. He is currently on 82.1 percent of the ballots submitted and needs 75 percent of the vote to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. It is still very early in the process as it is estimated that 416 ballots will be cast. If you would like to keep up with his progress, follow Ryan Thibodaux on Twitter @NotMrTibbs and check out his ballot tracker.

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Mariners notebook: Jerry Dipoto makes first comments since Shohei Ohtani’s decision