Drayer: Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has short shopping list and new set of free agents to look at
With 56 players cut loose by their teams on the non-tender deadline Tuesday, the free agent market ballooned with a number of interesting players all of the sudden available.
Old friends from the Mariners’ past like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Guillermo Heredia were on the list, names that no doubt left many fans wondering if there could be a reunion with any one of them. While the number and quality of names made available Tuesday may have come as a surprise to most, it is unlikely that those who occupy the front offices of baseball were caught off guard.
“We do a lot of reconnaissance internally (on) who we expect might become available and I can’t say there were any shockers to us, including our own,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters to discuss the MLB’s upcoming Winter Meetings. “We did a lot of work trying to put together trades and we were unable to get there, and based on the calls that we received from other teams we were able to determine who were likely to be the non-tenders.”
Just as the Mariners were shopping Domingo Santana in hopes of getting some sort of return before not tending him a 2020 contract, they were approached by other teams about most of the names on the non-tender list. While there may not have been interest in those players at that cost – both dollars and return – those costs have changed and there is interest.
“I can’t say anything was entirely shocking to us but it is an awfully talented group,” said Dipoto. “There are a lot of good players available that weren’t available last week.”
To that end, Dipoto has reached out to the agents of a number of the new free agents to express interest. As he prepares to head to San Diego later this week for the start of the meetings, the Mariners’ shopping list is short.
The position player side of the roster, barring a trade, is set. Between now and the start of spring training, Dipoto looks to add an experienced reliever to a very young bullpen, and a starter who, in his words, possesses versatility and “can step into what might be a bit of a nebulous role and be built that way.” In other words, a player who can complete the rotation should Justin Dunn prove to not quite be ready out of spring training.
To fill those spots, Dipoto is looking for players who, like recent Mariners signings Kendall Graveman and Carl Edwards Jr., fit a certain profile.
“Bounce-back type of players, guys coming off injury, and especially players who are in their 20s,” Dipoto said. “Players we feel appropriately line up with what we are trying to do with our roster.”
Dipoto acknowledged that additions of a starter and a reliever most likely would not happen in the near term, and possibly not even until after the start of the new year. If you are looking for a big signing by the Mariners during the Winter Meetings, they have been very up front from the start of the offseason that it is not going to happen. And while the door is always open to at least listen on trades, it appears there’s a high probability that a selection in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 12 will be the lone transaction they make in San Diego.