Jerry Dipoto on Busy Offseason So Far

Jerry Dipoto.jpg

Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto has been the busiest GM in baseball, and the Winter Meetings are still to come.

Since he arrived, Dipoto has made five trades, signed three free agents and claimed two players off waivers.

Yesterday, it was announced the Mariners acquired catcher Steve Clevenger from Baltimore in exchange for 1B/OF Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, who was acquired in the six-player deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. He also signed free agent relief pitcher Justin De Fratus to a one-year deal and picked up infielder Andy Wilkins off waivers from Baltimore.

Dipoto held a conference call with media where he discussed the latest moves as well as his busy offseason so far. Here are some quotes from the session.

Trumbo for Clevenger deal gives us…

“The opportunity to bring in a left-hand hitting back-up catcher and create enough payroll and roster flexibility to do some other things as we head into the Hot Stove version of the offseason. I explained all this to Mark. He understood it. He’s going to a good environment.”

Jesus Montero

“If the season started today, he’ll be our first baseman. He’s done enough at the Triple A level to warrant a full-time look, now it’s up to us to figure out how to play someone with him to upgrade the position. There’s not much else he can do in the minor leagues. It’s his time to show what he can do at the Major League level, whether it’s here or elsewhere.”

Montero and Wilkins at First Base

“Picking up Andy Wilkins, he’s 27 for the 2016 season. He’s proven his abilities in Triple A. He gives us a nice two-options player who has upper levels experience and could pair with Jesus (Montero) if the season started today. And our goal between now, today, and Opening Day is going to be to add to that and create a situation where those guys become part of a solution instead of a singular solution.”

Steve Clevenger

“Part of the appeal with Steve is he can swing the bat. He has been an excellent offensive player. He can hit. During his minor league tenure, he was I think a .315 career minor league hitter. He’s always been an on-base guy. It’s more a singles, gaps type with double power over home runs. He can get on base. He’s always done that. And appears to have turned the corner at the Major Leagues. He gives us a catcher/first base/DH type. He’s actually played other positions throughout the course of his minor league career, but we don’t intend to expand his positions beyond those three. But we do intend to give him the opportunity to contribute at each of those three during the course of the season.”

Mike Zunino

“Along with Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger, this does allow us to send Mike back to Tacoma to start the season, if that’s what we choose to do. But he still has the opportunity to come in and win playing time. Because Steve Clevenger is versatile enough to play first base if need be, the possibility also exists to carry all three, Chris, Steve and Mike, provided that Mike warrants that type of situation. Our preference would be to give him the opportunity to start at Triple A, unless he forces the issue as a Major League roster player in the spring. Which is very possible. He’s a very talented guy and we still count him as a very large part of what we’re doing in the future.”

A whole lot of catchers

“Jesus Sucre is in a position now where he’s going to have to compete for a roster spot in Spring Training. He’s still an optionable player who we like what he brings defensively very much. With Iannetta and Clevenger, Zunino and even Steve Baron, I think we’ve created enough depth catching-wise that what looked to be a very significant weakness at the start of the offseason is turning into closer to a strength.”

Justin De Fratus

“In 2014, Justin De Fratus was an excellent Major League reliever. Obviously, he had a rough year last year. He’s got two ‘plus’ pitches. He’s got a plus fastball, plus slider. He’s been a performer. He’s performed down in his minor league career, he’s been a performer in periods of time at the Major League level and put it together for the full 2014 season.”

“We felt like there were some ‘usability’ issues last year that we might be able to find better ways to get the most out of him. We’re not looking for him to be a long or multi-inning reliever, but rather a short reliever and just let his stuff play. He’s a guy who will throw 91 to 95, with a slider he’s always had swing and miss capability. He’s coming off a down year, there’s no getting around that. But that’s what made him available at 28 years old.”

Putting the pieces together

“We’re taking the 10,000 foot view of putting this roster together. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that viewing each trade as a stand-alone is probably not the way to view our offseason.”

More work to do…

“We felt good about the way the roster ended up, but we’re not quite there yet. We’ve committed to tendering contracts to the rest of the guys on the roster and we feel good about where we are. It’s starting to come together but there will be further change. We need to work at first base, we need to continue to add in our bullpen, and add a new starting pitcher, at least one starting pitcher is a priority for us. Those are three areas of need, but honestly, I’m quite happy with what we’ve done and our ability to create roster depth and flexibility this early in the offseason. Heading into the Winter Meetings, we have a lot less to do.”


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