Salk: It’s time for the Mariners to give Jerry Dipoto a contract extension
It is time for the Mariners to extend both Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais. Both took over three years ago, took the unusual step of entering this season as lame ducks, and have done enough to earn the continued faith of the fans, the players, and (in this case, most importantly) upper management.
This isn’t obvious, especially in Dipoto’s case. The team is not perfect. The farm system is still lousy. His trade record has wins and losses. The team has yet to make the playoffs under his leadership.
But as general manager, Dipoto set out to create a team that had an identity: to be athletic, deep and tough to play against. Right now, those are the qualities that are sustaining this group through another tough stretch of injuries.
Thus far, he deserves tremendous credit for acquiring a pair of young, controllable stars in Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. He seems to have hit another home run with the Dee Gordon trade. He has done an exemplary job of understanding how to handle an aging core and what steps needed to be taken to develop a younger group prepared to take their place.
I also appreciate his understanding of the starting pitching market this past offseason. With very little available, and most of the free agents having disappointing starts with their new teams, he went about rebuilding his staff during last season by adding Mike Leake and Marco Gonzales in trades. It was exactly the kind of creative solution necessary when you have some of the albatross contracts that he inherited.
Perhaps my favorite Dipoto move was the inspired decision to hire Servais as manager. An extension for Servais should be Dipoto’s first act if and when he is extended himself. And I’ll address this separately.
The argument in favor of Dipoto starts with what he’s done but it is more about what still needs to happen.
In the coming months, the Mariners will have to make a few big decisions. If they want to contend, they need at least one reliever, likely a starter and maybe another outfielder. Thankfully, they have nearly $12 million to spend (thanks to the Robinson Canó suspension) and they will have to be creative in using it. They don’t have a ton of prospects to deal but they can take on salary, which may put them in a unique spot. Dipoto is well-suited for that kind of situation, but I think a GM should be empowered to do that right. In order to deal from strength, he should have a new deal.
That is especially important if they fall out of the playoff race. Imagine a scenario where a few more contributors get hurt, the pitching falters and some of their RISP luck works against them. It stinks, but it could certainly happen. And if it does, it will finally be time to blow this nucleus apart.
The Mariners need a GM they trust, and they can’t start that process with someone potentially on his way out the door. I would trust Dipoto to oversee and overhaul, but he needs to have another three years to make that happen.
So, now is the time. Give Dipoto credit for what he has done. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has been worthy of our trust going forward. Most importantly, it has been creative – an attribute that will be paramount in the upcoming weeks, months and years.
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) May 23, 2018