Dipoto says Mariners will see if Shed Long can ‘move around the field’
Jerry Dipoto kicked off what will be a busy week of scheduled Mariners coverage – the annual Baseball Hall of Fame announcement Tuesday, pre-spring training press conference Thursday – with a trade, of course. This one is a little different from the previous seven deals he has made this offseason, however.
Seattle sent Josh Stowers to the Yankees for Shed Long: prospect for prospect, outfielder for infielder. Dipoto drew from an area of depth in the Mariners farm system to bring in a badly-needed infielder, and in doing so he picked up a left-handed bat that is closer to the Major Leagues than the player they’re giving up.
The Mariners GM joined Danny, Dave and Moore shortly after making the trade to talk about expectations for the newest Mariner (download the interview here).
“We are bringing him in to camp with the idea that we will maintain second base as his primary position,” Dipoto said, “and we are going to see if he has the aptitude to move around the field a little bit – try him at third base, try him in the outfield – and take advantage of the athleticism and get that bat in the lineup.”
Dipoto said that Long had been a target of the Mariners from the start of the offseason. But to get Long, who started the day as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, Dipoto had to get creative and pull off what was essentially a three-team deal.
“We had a couple of discussions with (the Reds) in larger trades where his name was involved but we weren’t able to get over the hump,” Dipoto said. “Here we were able to access Shed by working through the Yankees, drafting on a deal they were doing with the Reds on Sonny Gray.”
Dipoto clearly values the athleticism of Long, who was originally drafted as a catcher by the Reds in the 12th round of the 2013 draft. While he didn’t use the word “super utility” in the interview, he clearly would like to see if the 23 year old is capable of moving around the diamond. It is an asset that Dipoto has long wanted and the ability to develop such player, rather than sign one year to year, would have clear benefits.
“The idea that he fits in so well with the window that we are trying to open up, mid-season 2020, 2021, he should be just coming into his own as a young major leaguer and another guy we feel we can build around,” Dipoto said .
Long, who hasn’t played above Double-A, is expected to start the season at Triple-A Tacoma.
• With Monday’s move comes new prospect rankings for the Mariners. Long checks in at No. 7 on Seattle’s list on Baseball America and No. 8 from MLB Pipeline, who had him ranked seventh in the Reds organization. As for Stowers, he was the Mariners’ 10th-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline and enters the Yankees system as their No. 23 prospect.
• The Hall of Fame announcements can be seen tomorrow on the MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com. Coverage on the MLB Network begins at noon with the results to be announced at 3 p.m.
• Dipoto talked to Danny, Dave and Moore on what should be a very big day for Edgar Martinez, who appears on his way to finally gaining induction into Cooperstown.
“I think we are all excited believing that this is his time. It really could not happen to a better person,” Dipoto said.
Dipoto pointed out that Edgar has had to deal with 10 years of quickly getting over the disappointment of not reaching the required 75 percent of the vote. What has changed in the decade since Edgar took his final swing? The interpretation and understanding of just what Edgar did in his career, with the voters getting a big assist from the numbers.
“It has been long overdue and I think the metrics and the way players are evaluated now really helps to shine a light on how good Edgar Martinez was,” said Dipoto. “I think it is just a reflection in how we have become more sophisticated in the way we evaluate players. The fact that here in recent years it has become more trendy with the writers is not shocking because frankly a lot of the writers come from this school of the kind of new evaluation and thought.
“Edgar was worth by most measures about 70 WAR in his career, well over the line for what is expected of a Hall of Famer. Edgar also had north of a .930 OPS. You really don’t see players who play close to a 20-year career that can put up a number like that. Frankly, there are less than one percent of guys that can do that for a season, much less sustain it for a career that accounted for almost 9,000 plate appearances. It’s a gigantic number.”