The Seattle Mariners have been one of the most active teams on the market thus far this offseason and that is not without reason.
New team General Manager Jerry Dipoto has been very busy and that is because he has so much work to do in re-working the Mariners’ roster that was left in a tough spot following the Jack Zduriencik era.
So far, Dipoto has made five trades, signed three free agents in Chris Iannetta, Franklin Gutierrez, and Justin De Fratus (with a fourth pending in Nori Aoki), and has made two roster claims in the last month. None of these players are stars per se, but they are players who will make Seattle a better team and addressed team needs.
With the Winter Meetings happening next week in Nashville, Dipoto has another chance to make more moves and in a place where he has been active in past. There is no reason to think that the moves will stop as there hasn’t been much movement on Hisashi Iwakuma.
“We’re still focused on the obvious, which is the potential of bringing Kuma back,” Dipoto said. “We’ll continue to focus there, as well as everything we’ve talked about openly since I’ve arrived. And we’d like to get deeper in terms of pitching. That is likely to happen in addressing bullpen needs, whether via trade or free agency.”
One move that helped to free some salary space was the trade with Baltimore that sent Mark Trumbo packing east. Trumbo was due about $9 million in 2016 and being able to take him off of the books was important in being able to rework this roster and keep some room open for potentially a free agent or two more.
Right now, Seattle has nine players under contract for $91.25 million for 2016 with three more players arbitration-eligible and expected to eat up about $6 million to $7 million more. With those numbers, it is unexpected that they will sign another big name, but there is still plenty of money to work with.
“We’re not done making moves,” said Dipoto. “There’s still a lot to do to get where we need to be by Opening Day, but I feel we’re making good progress.”
Now, it is highly unexpected that the kind of money used to sign Pujols will be used this year with the Mariners, but there is still work left to be done.
“There’s still a lot of offseason left,” Dipoto said. “What we do between now and Opening Day in developing our roster is still a bit of a work in progress.”
The Mariners still have to find a starting first baseman, find more bullpen depth, and probably have more unforeseen moves coming, but each transaction seems to be building on the next and evolving into what Dipoto wants this roster to look like.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest that measuring each trade as a standalone is probably not the way to view our offseason,” Dipoto said.
There is still a lot of time left in this offseason and it is unlikely we have seen the end of the Mariners’ roster reshaping. Flexibility is something this roster has and gives Dipoto options to work with.
“We feel good about the roster at day’s end,” Dipoto said. “Obviously, we’re not quite there yet. … Honestly, I’m quite happy with what we’ve done with the ability to create roster depth and flexibility. … Now as we head into the winter meetings (which begin Monday), we have a lot less to do than we did at the start of the offseason.”