Mariners Acquire Ryne Harper from Atlanta as PTBNL

Ryne Harper

Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto today announced that the Mariners have acquired right-handed pitcher Ryne Harper from Atlanta as the Player to be Named Later in the Mariners Dec. 4 trade of RHP Jose Ramirez to the Braves.

Harper, 26, was 0-1 with a 1.87 ERA in 23 games with AA Mississippi in the Atlanta Braves system. He struck out 40 batters in 33.2 innings pitched while walking only 11. He also appeared in 1 game with the high-A Rome Braves.

Ryne is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound reliever. He’s made 172 appearances in his minor league career, all in relief. Overall, since debuting in 2011, Harper is 20-12 with a 2.16 ERA with 20 career saves. He’s struck out 317 batters, while walking only 79, in 267.0 career innings. He’s struck out 10.7 batters per 9.0 innings pitched, while walking just 2.7 per 9.0 IP.

Harper was originally drafted by the Braves in the 37th round of the 2011 June Draft out of Austin Peay State University.

Harper will be assigned to the AAA Tacoma roster. With today’s transaction the Mariners 40-man roster remains unchanged at 40 players.

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Baseball Winter Meetings – Day 4

Jerry Dipoto recaps the Winter Meetings with Seattle's travelling media.

Jerry Dipoto recaps the Winter Meetings with Seattle’s travelling media.

Come in with a plan; Execute your plan:
The Mariners were one of the most active teams at the meeting, but were also one of the most efficient. Jerry Dipoto and the baseball operations staff had been working since his arrival in September on a plan to remake the Mariners roster. Since the season ended, they have executed on that plan, including here at the meetings. Here’s a look at the Mariners Nashville transactions:
Monday, December 7th
• Acquired LHP Wade Miley RHP Jonathan Aro from Boston Red Sox in exchange for LHP Roenis Elias and RHP Carson Smith.

Tuesday, December 8th
• Acquired RHP Evan Scribner from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Trey Cochran-Gill.

Wednesday, December 9th
• Acquired 1B Adam Lind from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for RHP Carlos Herrera, RHP Daniel Missaki and RHP Freddy Peralta. Designated 1B Andy Wilkins for assignment.

Thursday, December 10th
• Selected RHP Isaac Sanchez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Triple-A portion of the Major League Rule 5 Draft.
• OF Jabari Blash selected by the Oakland Athletics (6th overall) in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
• LHP Brian Moran (Cleveland), RHP Logan Bawcom (Los Angeles-NL) and OF Julio Morban (Los Angeles-NL) selected from Seattle in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Rule 5:
In the Rule 5 Draft today, a total of 65 players were selected, including 48 in the Triple-A phase of the Draft.
The Mariners selected right-handed pitcher Isaac Sanchez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Triple-A portion of the Major League Rule 5 Draft.
Sanchez, 23 went 2-3 with 3 saves and a 2.71 ERA (20 ER, 66.1 IP) in 42 relief appearances with Single-A Bradenton in the Florida State League in 2015. The 6-foot-0, 190-pound right-handed reliever limited opponents to a .242 (60×248) average, while striking out 51 and walking 24 in 66.1 innings. He was on the 7-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain, July 30-Aug. 8, and appeared in one game on a rehab assignment with the GCL Pirates.

Sanchez was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pittsburgh on June 18, 2010. Over parts of 6 seasons in the minor leagues, he is 14-11 with 11 saves and a 3.66 ERA (102 ER, 250.2 IP) in 139 games, 14 starts.

The Oakland Athletics selected outfielder Jabari Blash off the Mariners Triple-A Tacoma roster with the 6th selection in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. He hit .271 (110×406) with 79 runs scored, 24 doubles, 2 triples, 32 home runs and 81 RBI in 116 games combined between Triple-A Tacoma and Double-A Jackson. The A’s traded Blash to the San Diego Padres minutes after making the selection.

Players chosen in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft must remain in the Major Leagues for the entire 2016 season. If the ML team wishes to option a player back to the minors, the club must first expose him to waivers for every other MLB team, then offer him back to his original team for $25,000 (half of the $50,000 claiming fee). A total of 16 players were selected in the Major League portion of the 2015 Rule 5 Draft.

Three players (LHP Brian Moran, RHP Logan Bawcom & OF Julio Morban) were selected from the Mariners system in the minor league portion of the draft.

Standing room only crowd at the Rule 5 Draft.

Standing room only crowd at the Rule 5 Draft.

Airport Day:
After four days of the entire baseball world converging on Nashville, and the Opryland Hotel, today was check-out day. The Rule 5 Draft (see below) started at 9 AM this morning and as soon as it was completed, the lobby filled up with Major League staff and minor league organizations streaming out of the building. By lunchtime, the hotel was pleasantly quiet, a distinct change after the crowds of the previous days. The Seattle contingent was travelling back on a late afternoon flight, so the Mariners were one of the final organizations in the building.

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Baseball Winter Meetings – Day 3

WELCOME TO SEATTLE ADAM LIND

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto completed his ninth trade of the off-season, acquiring Adam Lind from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a trio of teenage minor league right-handed pitchers. Lind brings power (32 doubles, 20 home runs) and on-base percentage (.360). You can see full details below in the blog, but Jerry’s thoughts on why he fits for our club were clear. “Adam lengthens our line-up as a first baseman who gives us on-base percentage and power. First base was a spot we came here looking to fill, and we feel that Adam is a good fit for us.”

MAKING THE ROUNDS

Mariners Manager Scott Servais made media rounds at the Winter Meetings today, including interviews with MLB Network, MLB Network Radio and ESPN. He also met with our local beat writers, national and international writers for a 30 minute session.

Here is part of his transcript from his media session (read the whole thing here):

Q. You’ve had a lot of turnover here in short order. What’s the biggest challenge with that many new faces and a new face of your own?

SCOTT SERVAIS: Well, they’re all new to me, that’s the first thing. Obviously, there’s been a ton of turnover in our roster. Change was coming. We talked about it early on, wanted to get a different look to our team. That’s what we focused on. Obviously, Jerry has done an awesome job trying to go out and acquire players that fit the mold he’s looking for. On the tough side, we’ve given up some very good players, guys that are going to go on and have very successful careers, and it may come back and hurt us at times. To get good players, you’ve got to give up good players. We’ve been aggressive. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to make trades. But we’re getting after it, and I don’t think Jerry is going to slow down any time soon.

Q. Scott, you mentioned the new guys. But how much contact have you had with the guys that are coming back, especially that core group of guys, Felix and Cano and Seager?

SCOTT SERVAIS: Quite a bit of contact. I’ve talked to 10 to 12 players face to face, many more on the phone, trying to get a feel — let them get a feel for me, first of all, and kind of what I’m like. More importantly, listening to them and where they’re at. Everybody is at a different point in their career, and I feel it’s important where I’m at to listen to them. That includes Mike Zunino, as well, who we consider a high end prospect who’s going to have a very successful major league career. I’ve spent a lot of time. I’ve been in Dominican talking to Nelly, I’ve talked to Robbie, Ketel Marte down there. I met with Felix and Walker. I talked to a lot of guys. I learned a lot about where they’re at, and I think they’ve learned a lot on where they’re going to go.

Q. Scott, it seems like the way managers are hired these days, it’s different from in the past. It used to be you spend a lot of time in the minors as a manager or maybe several years as a bench coach. We’ve seen more managers without previous experience get hired. As somebody who has spent time in the front office as well, why do you think this has changed?

SCOTT SERVAIS: I spent plenty of time in the minors. I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s where I’ve been the last ten years. I have not managed in the minor leagues. I have not been a bench coach in the big leagues. And I’m not the first. Lucky for me, there’s been many guys, and I could go through the list, talking to them earlier today. Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus, guys with different paths. Mine may be more what A.J. Hinch has gone through, just coming from the front office. I think there’s tremendous value in understanding of how to put teams together and how front offices look at that. I will use that to my benefit. The one thing I’ve not done is I have not managed a major league team, but I’ve managed people. I think, when you look at the game and how the game’s evolved, it is about managing people and creating an environment that they feel good about coming to work every day and a certain culture along with that. That’s what I think I can bring to the Mariners. Again, it’s about the players and putting them in a position to win. So, again, it’s been a different path, I’ve said it all along, that I’ve taken to get here. I feel fortunate, and I’m really excited about getting started.

MLB STAND UP TO CANCER AUCTION

For the fourth consecutive year, Major League Baseball, MLB Advanced Media, MLB Network and the 30 Clubs have organized a Winter Meetings charity auction that includes once-in-a-lifetime baseball experiences and unique items to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.  This initiative, which has raised nearly $500,000 since its inception, was inspired by the numerous employees, friends and fans of the game who have been affected by cancer. A significant portion of the proceeds will go to Stand Up To Cancer, a longtime partner of Major League Baseball, its founding donor in 2008.  In addition, this year’s auction will benefit Do It For Durrett, in honor of the late Texas Rangers ESPN.com beatwriter Richard Durrett, who passed away suddenly last year, and the YouCaring page established for Miami Marlins Sun Sentinel beatwriter Juan C. Rodriguez, who is currently battling a brain tumor.  The auction is live on MLB.com until Thursday, December 10th at 9:00 p.m. (ET).

Following are the Mariners items supporters can bid on at http://www.mlb.com/SU2Cauction:

DAILY SESSION

As he does each day at the Winter Meetings, Jerry Dipoto met with our travelling beat media this afternoon. In addition to laying out his thoughts on the Lind acquisition, Jerry talked about the position player group, mentioned his thoughts on bullpen construction, and walked through the improvements we’ve made in our line-up, specifically in our ability to get on base. Jerry also talked through the strategy of trying to get ahead of the market here by making moves early in the, rather than waiting until players we were interested had been bid up in the Winter Meetings frenzy.

Jerry's daily session with travelling media

Jerry’s daily session with travelling media.

TOMORROW’S RULE 5 PRIMER

Every year, Major League Baseball holds two player drafts. Most fans are familiar with and have a basic understanding of the First-Year Player Draft, which occurs each June and deals with amateur players in the United States and Puerto Rico. But the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place in December and concerns professional players, is often confusing. This factsheet aspires to clear up how the Rule 5 Draft works.

A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team he was selected from for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.

Once a player is selected, he is automatically assigned to his new organization’s 40-man roster.

Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played in pro ball for five years. All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are “protected” and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Teams draft in reverse-order of the regular season standings. Any team that does not have any vacancies on its 40-man roster may not make a selection.

There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases to the Rule 5 Draft. Players put on the Triple-A reserve list cost the selecting team $12,000, and players put on the Double-A reserve list cost the selecting team $4,000.

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Winter Meetings Media Session – Scott Servais

Servais

New Mariners Manager Scott Servais had a busy day in Nashville Wednesday at the Winter Meetings.

He met with his fellow managers, did interviews with MLB Network and MLB Radio, and had a 30 minute Q&A with the media. It was a wide-ranging session that included questions about Scott’s approach as a rookie manager, how the lineup is shaping up and the flurry of Mariners moves this offseason. Here’s a transcript of that session.

Q. You’ve had a lot of turnover here in short order. What’s the biggest challenge with that many new faces and a new face of your own?

SCOTT SERVAIS: Well, they’re all new to me, that’s the first thing. Obviously, there’s been a ton of turnover in our roster. Change was coming. Obviously, new general manager, new field manager.

We talked about it early on, wanted to get a different look to our team. That’s what we focused on. Obviously, Jerry (Dipoto) has done an awesome job trying to go out and acquire players that fit the mold he’s looking for.

On the tough side, we’ve given up some very good players, guys that are going to go on and have very successful careers, and it may come back and hurt us at times. To get good players, you’ve got to give up good players. We’ve been aggressive. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to make trades. But we’re getting after it, and I don’t think Jerry is going to slow down any time soon.

Q. Is your lineup starting to come into place?
SS: For me, yes.

Q. A bit more on what it might look like?
SS: We’ve talked a lot upstairs, and I’ve got ideas. We’ve shared things. I had the coaching staff together in Seattle last week. We have different bodies than we had last week, as crazy as that sounds.

Looking at different options, if you look at the makeup of our lineup, we have guys who get on base. For the most part, that’s something we said we wanted to address, controlling the strike zone, being a tougher out, and trying to create more opportunities to score runs, and we’ve gone out and gotten a few of those guys.

Hopefully, there’s a few more guys on base when Nelson (Cruz) and Robbie (Cano) come up to bat and create more scoring opportunities.

Q. Scott, you mentioned the new guys. But how much contact have you had with the guys that are coming back, especially that core group of guys, Felix and Cano and Seager?
SS: Quite a bit of contact. I’ve talked to 10 to 12 players face to face, many more on the phone, trying to get a feel — let them get a feel for me, first of all, and kind of what I’m like. More importantly, listening to them and where they’re at. Everybody is at a different point in their career, and I feel it’s important where I’m at to listen to them.

That includes Mike Zunino, as well, who we consider a high end prospect who’s going to have a very successful major league career. I’ve spent a lot of time. I’ve been in Dominican talking to Nelly (Cruz), I’ve talked to Robbie (Cano), Ketel Marte down there. I met with Felix (Hernandez) and (Taijuan) Walker. I talked to a lot of guys. I learned a lot about where they’re at, and I think they’ve learned a lot on where they’re going to go.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Marte and what you see, or what you know?
SS: I’m really excited about him. I think he fits exactly what we’re looking for as far as a guy to create havoc on the bases offensively. We want to be aggressive. I think he brings some attitude or some swag to his game, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. He’s very confident.

Fortunately for me, I’ve got veteran players around him and veteran leaders that can help control that at times, but I’m excited about it, and I think he’s going to be a key piece to our club. Getting in the middle of the field every day, I would like to say we know exactly what we’re going to get. We don’t. It’s young players. But I do believe he’s ready to contribute every day, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it works out.

Q. Would you like to see him do well enough to have him up at the top of the order?
SS: No doubt. I think that’s where he eventually settles in. I think he’ll let us know when he’s ready to do that every day. It may start out opening day, and it may be later in the season. We’ll see how the lineup kind of comes together as we get through Spring Training.

Q. Scott, what’s your view on platoons? I know you have one with Franklin Gutierrez and Seth Smith. Is Adam Lind a candidate for a platoon, obviously, or some type of lefty?
SS: Obviously, Adam Lind is dominant against right-handed pitching. We knew that when we acquired him. In a perfect world, you’re giving him a day off here or there against a tough lefty.

But you want to put players in positions to succeed. That’s my job. That’s the coaching staff’s job. If that means you’re going to use your entire roster, I would think somewhere else on our roster there would be a right-handed hitting first baseman to match up with him.

If not, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to play. Adam Lind is a good player, and that’s why we acquired him, and we gave up good players to get him.

Q. How much have you and Jerry talked about third time through the order effectiveness and how you might approach that?
SS: With our pitching staff?

Q. Yes.
SS: It is something to look at. I think all managers are looking at it, especially with the model the Kansas City Royals have thrown out there with their bullpen. I think it’s great if the guy you’re going to get is better than the guy who’s out there. You kind of have to look at your pitching staff and your roster and where you’re at. It’s definitely something we’ve talked about.

Q. Scott, it seems like the way managers are hired these days, it’s different from in the past. It used to be you spend a lot of time in the minors as a manager or maybe several years as a bench coach. We’ve seen more managers without previous experience get hired. As somebody who has spent time in the front office as well, why do you think this has changed?
SS: I spent plenty of time in the minors. I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s where I’ve been the last ten years. I have not managed in the minor leagues. I have not been a bench coach in the big leagues. And I’m not the first. Lucky for me, there’s been many guys, and I could go through the list, talking to them earlier today. Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus, guys with different paths.

Mine may be more what A.J. Hinch has gone through, just coming from the front office. I think there’s tremendous value in understanding of how to put teams together and how front offices look at that. I will use that to my benefit.

The one thing I’ve not done is I have not managed a Major League team, but I’ve managed people. I think, when you look at the game and how the game’s evolved, it is about managing people and creating an environment that they feel good about coming to work every day and a certain culture along with that. That’s what I think I can bring to the Mariners.

Again, it’s about the players and putting them in a position to win. So, again, it’s been a different path, I’ve said it all along, that I’ve taken to get here. I feel fortunate, and I’m really excited about getting started.

Q. You know that relationship between the general manager and manager has always been important. Is it a bigger key even now that there’s a synergy between them maybe now because of the advent of advanced metrics?
SS: It’s important, no doubt. It’s been important as long as baseball has been going on, that relationship, because there’s going to be some rough times. There’s going to be losing streaks, disagreements, things like that. I think having a relationship, knowing how the other person really ticks and having worked with that person for a long time, it certainly helps.

My relationship with Jerry, I understand how he thinks, and I know he understands how I think. So it speeds up the learning curve a little bit when you’re looking at roster and how players are going to be put into play. The analytical part of it and what goes on in the front office, it’s important everybody is on the same page. There’s no doubt. The way the game has gone on, they’re looking for a competitive advantage, the greatest players in the world. You’re managing against the most competitive people in the world. You have to use all the resources to try to win today’s game.

Q. Jerry said that the bullpen is still a work in progress. When you look at what you have right now, do you have a closer?
SS: We’ve got guys that can close. That’s how I look at it. Quite frankly, I have been away from my room for about four hours, so I’m not sure what’s happened in the last four hours as far as speaking to specific names and roles.

I think roles will be defined by the time we open up on opening day. I think players need to know kind of where they’re at. They also have to know that that role can change based on their performance and where the team’s at and how the matchups line up.

The one thing that I’m looking forward to doing is communicating with our players, being transparent on where we’re headed and why we’re headed there. I do believe, if you are honest and open with players, they’ll adjust.

But as far as the roles are in, right now, is it clearly defined? No, it’s not. Do I feel good that we have a closer? We’ll have somebody to take the ball at the end, whether it’s Joaquin Benoit, or somebody else.

Q. Who else could it be?
SS: I’m not going there. Good try, though.

Q. You mentioned being transparent. What’s your message to (Mike) Zunino know when you approach him?
SS: My biggest thing with Mike is I was a young catcher that really struggled to get in the big leagues. I’ve been in those shoes. I wasn’t a first round pick, but I was a high pick. Understanding what goes into catching and being a winning catcher, obviously, the defense and calling the game and things you would take a lot of pride in doing in helping your team win. But ultimately, what’s on the back of your baseball card is your batting statistics, and that plays into the game.

I know how hard it is to deal with failure. I think in my conversation with Mike, it was just to try to get a feel for where he’s at at this point in his career. I’m sure a lot of people want to try to help Mike, give him ideas on his hitting or approach to hitting or where he needs to go.

Ultimately, it is his career, and he has to make the decision who he wants to listen to, why he wants to listen to them, and then go forward from there. So you need to narrow that focus a little bit. That was kind of the message I gave to him. Who is in your circle? Who is your guy that you’re going to trust? Hopefully, over time we build a relationship, and it’s people in Mariners uniforms that are on our staff that he can trust and work with and feel good about.

Mike Zunino is going to be a very good major league player. There’s no doubt in my mind, Jerry’s mind, or anyone else. It’s just when. He will let us know.

Q. Scott, you’ve been with Jerry for a good while now. You know how he operates. Does he appear even more driven by the circumstances where he left Los Angeles? Does it seem like he’s really out to prove something?
SS: No, not any more than normal. Jerry has always been driven. He’s a workaholic. He loves his job. Putting teams together and putting people together and creating a culture for everyone can learn. So not any more driven than I’ve ever seen him.

Q. Going back to Zunino a little bit, he had done some stuff at the end of the season based on stuff Edgar wanted him to do. Did he feel he was making progress on those changes?
SS: Yeah, and I’ve talked to Edgar (Martinez) a lot too about where he’s at. I think, as far as organizationally, the hitting program, the pitching program, what we’re doing at the big league level and transferring down to the minor league level is going to be huge to get all those things in place. That’s what the good organizations have. They have that synergy. That’s what the St. Louis Cardinals have. That’s what the Kansas City Royals have. I was a part of that when I was at Texas for a while.

I think getting on the Zunino thing, making sure he understands exactly what the expectations are and the changes he needs to make, but ultimately, Mike has to believe it, and it’s Mike’s career. We’re here to help him, and we’ll do everything we can, give him all the tools to be successful, and he’s going to be.

Q. Scott, a veteran manager once told me that it’s often easier for him to manage against other veteran managers, even the great ones, because he knows their tendencies.
SS: Nobody knows mine.

Q. Right. But flipping that around, how important will it be to you at all to understand other managers’ tendencies going into series?
SS: I think it’s important, knowing kind of how other teams — how the other manager is wired. You don’t know everything they’re going to do. You have a feel. You have an advanced scouting report, stuff like that.

Fortunately for me, I’m very well versed in the American League West. I’ve spent a lot of time there the last ten years. Know the clubs, know the personnel on the field. It can be important. I’m not going to downplay it, but I kind of look at it as I’m the guy they don’t know. That’s my advantage right now.

Q. Scott, you acquired (Nori) Aoki recently. Any chances of Kenta Maeda also joining?
SS: I’ll let Jerry answer that one. I’m really excited to have Aoki. I think he’s going to be a great fit in our club. He’s a guy gets on base, can play a lot of different positions in the outfield. Great fit for our team. I’ll let Jerry talk about the other stuff.

Q. Scott, I’m from Baltimore. So I got to see Nelson Cruz for a year there under Buck Showalter. Do you see him as predominantly an everyday outfielder, or do you think he should DH a good portion of the time?
SS: I think it’s a combination. I do know that Nelson’s numbers were much better when he played in the field, his offensive numbers from last year. He wants to play in the field. I also want him to play every day. Knowing that the travel in Seattle is rough, there may have to be a few more DH days, and we’ll have to see how that plays out.

Nelson is a big part of our time. I have a relationship with him from our days in Texas. I talk to him a lot. I’m looking forward to him helping me lead and take care of some things in the clubhouse.

Q. With the types of things you guys have been doing, it looks like a team that wants to win now. Is that an added pressure on you as a first time manager?
SS: I think those guys that I had lunch with today, those other 29 managers, we all have pressure to win. So these jobs, like somebody told me right after I got a chance to manage, was there’s only one thing guaranteed, and that’s your compensation. The opportunity and the chance to lead an organization is never really guaranteed. It’s always tied to winning and the progress moving forward.

Seattle has not won in a long time. And the expectations there, they’re high, from ownership and team president and the fans. They should be. It’s time. It’s time to win. Jerry knows that we’re going to have to do something a little bit different with our roster and how we play to get a different result. That’s why he’s doing it.

Q. So Chris Iannetta is a guy you’re familiar with. What makes you believe he can have kind of a bounce back year after a tough year?
SS: Chris does some things that I really appreciate in the fact that what he does — calling the game, working with the pitching staff, really, really important. He did not have a typical Chris Iannetta season last year. He had a rough start to the season is what happened, and he got buried early. It happens to players. It certainly happened to me in my career.

I think you look at a major league career, not a lot of guys play ten years in the big leagues. Chris has played a long time. You’re going to have two or three bad years and two or three good years. Kind of what happens in the middle is who you are. Chris had a rough year. That’s why we were able to get him at the price point we’re at. We have an opportunity.

I talk to Chris a lot. I talked to him yesterday. I look at Chris. Leonys Martín, similar type player. We’re hoping for a bounce back year. That’s how you’re able to get those guys.

Q. Steve Clevenger, you know a little bit about him. Your thoughts and Jerry’s thoughts. You gave up a good package for him.
SS: I have some thoughts on Steve. I have not seen him a lot. I do know it’s probably more offense than defense. We like the left-handed bat and how that fits the matchup with Chris going forward there. Get a chance to know him better in Spring Training, but our scouts liked him, liked the bat.

Obviously, I’m a catching guy. I have a background there. He’s got some things to tighten up defensively, but he should be a good fit for our bullpen.

Q. More like an ex-catcher, (Jesus) Montero, I know time is ticking on his opportunities. Do you think he can bounce back?
SS: He will not catch. He’ll be first base, bat. There’s a spot for him on our club. He needs to perform well during Spring Training and going forward into the season. We’d really like him to be able to mash those left-handed pitchers. That would be great. I think he knows what’s ahead of him.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk much with (Robinson) Cano? How’s he doing health-wise?
SS: Health-wise, Robbie is great. He’s working out off-season. Talked to him a number of times. Manny Acta, the third base coach, has a good relationship with Robbie. Manny is in the Dominican and will be touching base with him frequently.

Robbie is a good spot. He does know he got off to a slow start last year. He had a great second half, playing injured, but great player. Lucky to have him. Going to be a big part of our team going forward.

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Expanded Netting Behind Home Plate

This morning at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, MLB announced recommendations to enhance fan safety at all 30 MLB ballparks.

After several months of study, Commissioner Rob Manfred has recommended that all ballparks expand backstop netting to cover seats within a 70-foot radius of home plate, or from dugout to dugout (if they fall within the 70-foot radius).

The Mariners have already been working with a consultant to come up with design options. Season ticketholders whose seats will be affected by the changes will be contacted directly.

In addition, the Commissioner is recommending that Clubs do more to warn fans about the dangers of foul balls and bats. At Safeco Field, there are already warning signs posted in several locations and public address announcements pregame. We’ll be working on some ideas to do more to educate fans going forward. MLB will also be working with the teams and our online ticket partners to provide more information to fans at the point of sale about which seats are (and aren’t) behind the new netting.

Coincidentally, the Mariners had already planned to replace the netting behind home plate for 2016. Netting material has improved a lot over the last several years and it will not only be safe, but also improve the fan viewing experience.

The Mariners and MLB take fan safety very seriously. These recommendations will improve fan safety while still preserving what many fans say they like best about sitting close to the field—the chance to catch a foul ball and interact with players.

Mariners Acquire 1B Adam Lind From Milwaukee

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Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto today announced from the Baseball Winter Meetings that the Mariners acquired first baseman Adam Lind from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor league right-handed pitchers Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki and Freddy Peralta.

“Adam lengthens our line-up as a first baseman who gives us on-base percentage and power,” Dipoto said. “First base was a spot we came here looking to fill, and we feel that Adam is a good fit for us.”

Lind, 32, had a .360 on-base percentage to go along with a .460 slugging average (.820 OPS) last season, collecting 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 87 RBI in 149 games. He played 138 games (including 134 starts) at first base. Adam’s 66 walks were 7 more than any Mariners player in 2015 (N. Cruz, 59), while his on-base percentage would have ranked second on the team behind Cruz (.369).

Lind led the Brewers in games, doubles, RBI and walks, and produced his fifth career season of 20 or more homers. All 20 of his homers came off right-handed pitching. Adam hit .336 (44-for-131) with runners in scoring position last season.

Lind, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound left-handed hitter, has an .880 OPS against right-handers since 2009, and his .912 OPS against right-handers since 2013 is 12th-best in the Majors over the past three years.

Since making his Major League debut in 2006, Lind is a career .274 hitter with 228 doubles, 12 triples, 166 home runs and 606 RBI in 1,102 games with the Blue Jays (2006-2014) and Milwaukee (2015). His career on-base percentage is .332 to go along with a .466 slugging mark (.797 career OPS).

Herrera, 19, began professional career with the DSL Mariners-1 in 2015, going 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA (29 ER, 80.0 IP) in 14 starts. He limited opponents to a .228 (68×298) average, while walking 13 and striking out 73. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 21, 2014.

Missaki, 19, was limited to only 6 starts due to an injury with Single-A Clinton in 2015. He was placed on the 7-day disabled list on May 7 and underwent surgery to repair UCL in right elbow (Tommy John). Missaki was originally signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on May 6, 2013. Over three seasons in the minor leagues he is 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA (40 ER, 106.0 IP) in 24 games, 20 starts.

Peralta, 19, went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA (26 ER, 57.0 IP) in 11 games, 9 starts with the Mariners in the Arizona League. He limited opponents to a .242 (52×215) average, while walking 8 and striking out 67 in 57.0 innings. Peralta was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent on April 18, 2013. Over parts of 3 minor leagues season he is 6-12 with a 3.58 ERA (65 ER, 163.1 IP) in 36 games, 31 starts.

To make room on the Major League, 40-man roster, the Mariners have designated infielder Andy Wilkins for assignment. Seattle has 10 days to trade, release or outright Wilkens to the minors.

With today’s transactions the Mariners 40-man roster remains at 40 players.

Mariners Acquire RHP Evan Scribner from Oakland

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Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto today announced from the Baseball Winter Meetings that the Mariners acquired right-handed pitcher Evan Scribner from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill.

With today’s transaction the Mariners 40-man, Major League roster is now full at 40 players.

“Evan brings us another experienced Major League reliever who has exhibited strong control of the strike zone as well as the ability to miss bats,” Dipoto said. “He’ll compete for a spot in our Major League bullpen.”

Scribner, 30, was 2-2 with a 4.35 ERA in a career-high 54 appearances for Oakland in 2015. He struck out 64 hitters in 60.0 innings pitched while walking just 4 (out of 238 batters faced). His 16-to-1 strikeout ration last season led all Major League relievers, as did his 0.60 walks per 9.0 innings pitched.

Scribner missed the month of September with a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle.

Scribner has pitched in the Majors for parts of five seasons with Oakland (2012-2015) and San Diego (2011). In his big league career, he is 5-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 125 relief appearances. He’s struck out 134 batters while walking only 27 in 147.2 innings pitched.

Cochran-Gill, 22 (turns 23 on Dec. 10), went 6-5 with 6 saves and 4.18 ERA in a 45 games, 1 start combined between Single-A Bakersfield, Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in his first full season as a professional in 2015. He limited opponents to a .255 (70×275) average, while walking 37 and striking out 51 in 75.1 innings in relief. Cochran-Gill was originally selected by Seattle in the 17th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University. Over 2014 and 2015 he has combined to go 11-5 with 18 saves and a 2.91 ERA (36 ER, 111.2 IP) in 70 games, 1 start.

Baseball Winter Meetings – Day 2

GM Jerry Dipoto checks in with the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and Mariners.com.

GM Jerry Dipoto checks in with the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and Mariners.com.

Nashville might be a center of the music industry, earning the name “Music City,” but this week it has turned into “Baseball City.”

The baseball world descended on Nashville this past weekend and will remain there until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.

The Mariners contingent, which includes General Manager Jerry Dipoto and his crew, is working diligently in trying to elevate the floor of the roster and fill in the gaps where needed.

As I’m sure you’ve read, the Mariners acquired left-hander Wade Miley and right-hander Jonathan Aro from the Red Sox yesterday.

“Wade provides stability to our rotation,” Dipoto said. “He takes his starts. We’re raising the floor. One way of the other, you’re going to have to throw 1,450 innings in a season and, hey, they have to come from somewhere.”

Dipoto continues to work to improve the club and checked in with MLB Network, MLB Network Radio and of course our local beat crew from the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and Mariners.com.

Each day, Dipoto meets with Greg Johns, Ryan Divish and Bob Dutton to give them an idea of what the club is looking to accomplish. Here are a few of the nuggets that came out of those talks.

One thing we’ve learned about Jerry in the short time he’s been the Mariners GM, you never know when the next roster move is coming. Keep watching MLB Network, reading reports from your favorite media members and checking back on this blog for the latest news about the Mariners roster.

A pre-Winter Meetings primer on the Mariners busy offseason

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For those of you scoring along at home, here’s a guide to the moves that Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto has made so far this offseason.

He’s made six trades, including a six-player swap with the Tampa Bay Rays, signed four free agents, including Thursday’s announcement of the Nori Aoki signing, and claimed two players off waivers. No Major League GM has been more active.

Dipoto admits that these moves are all a case of the sum being greater than the parts. “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,” said Dipoto.

So what exactly is Dipoto’s plan?

Dipoto is focused on strengthening the bullpen, adding speed and defense in the outfield and contact hitters to the lineup. He’s building a roster that is deeper and more versatile, populated with athletic players whose game is built for Safeco Field.

The Trades

The first major move of the offseason was November 5, when Dipoto announced that he’d completed a six-player trade with the Rays. First baseman Logan Morrison, infielder/outfielder Brad Miller and right-handed pitcher Danny Farquhar were swapped for right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser and minor league outfielder Boog Powell.

Here’s what Dipoto said about the deal at the time:

“As I said when I was hired, we need to get more flexible, more athletic and build pitching depth. This trade allows us to do all three. Powell brings speed, defense and on-base percentage to the table and could be ready to help us as soon as 2016, while Karns and Riefenhauser give us young, but experienced, pitching options.”

Six days later, he acquired veteran reliever Juaquin Benoit from the Padres for minor leaguers Enyel De Los Santos and Nelson Ward.

A few days after that, Dipoto made a deal with the Texas Rangers for outfielder Leonys Martin and right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass in exchange for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, outfielder James Jones and a player to be named later (Patrick Kivlehan).

The next week, Milwaukee Brewers infielder Luis Sardiñas came to Seattle in exchange for outfielder Ramon Flores.

Wednesday, it was announced that Mark Trumbo and pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser (from the Tampa trade) were going to Baltimore in exchange for veteran catcher Steve Clevenger. This signing, along with the Chris Iannetta signing, give the Mariners sudden strength at a position that had been a weakness the last few years.

Friday, Dipoto announced that he’d traded right-handed pitcher Jose Ramirez, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Dustin Ackley trade, to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later and cash. This deal, although small, frees up a roster spot and gives Dipoto the flexibility to continue his wheeling and dealing.

The Free Agents

Nori Aoki—The left-handed hitting outfielder will free up Nelson Cruz for more DH at-bats. Aoki’s 2015 season with the Giants was hampered by injuries, but he is known for discipline at the plate and ranks among the most consistent hitters in the game. Dipoto envisions Aoki as the leadoff hitter.

Franklin Gutierrez—Coming off a terrific come-back 2015 season, Gutierrez signed a one-year deal for 2016. Guti will primarily split time at the corners in the outfield. He brings speed, athleticism and power to the lineup.

Chris Iannetta – The veteran catcher signed a one-year deal with a 2017 option. Iannetta spent the last four seasons with the Angels. He will be the Mariners primary catcher for 2016. With Clevenger now on the roster, Dipoto says Mike Zunino could spend more time at Triple A. However, he admits that a good spring from Zunino could convince him to carry three catchers.

Justin De Fratus – The right-handed reliever spent the last five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. De Fratus is coming off a down year (Dipoto commented that a lot of Phillies had down years in 2015). Dipoto thinks that has to do with too many innings and too many outings. He sees De Fratus’s role with the Mariners as short, middle innings to take advantage of his plus-fastball and plus-slider, which give him “swing-and-miss” capability.

The Waiver Claims

Andy Wilkins – The first baseman was claimed off waivers from the Orioles. He gives the team a young player (27) with club options. He’ll likely split time at first base with Jesus Montero, whom Dipoto said would be his starting first baseman if the season started today.

Dan Robertson – An outfielder who spent last season in the Angels organization, Robertson has two stints in the Majors (with the Angels and Rangers), where he hit a combined .274 with 33 runs, 11 doubles and 28 RBI in 107 games.

Winter Meetings

With the Winter Meetings about to start, Dipoto promises that he’s not done. Although he admits that there’s a lot less to do now than there was a few weeks ago.

“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,” said Dipoto.

Seattle Mariners 2015 Offseason Transactions

  • October 19        Released RHP Logan Kensing
  • November 5      Traded IF Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison and RHP Danny Farquhar to Tampa Bay for RHP Nathan Karns, OF Boog Powell and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser
  • November 6      Claimed OF Daniel Robertson (LA Angels) off waivers
  • November 6      Outrighted RHP J.C. Ramirez to minor leagues
  • November 12    Acquired RHP Joaquin Benoit from San Diego in trade for minor league RHP Enyel De Los Santos and minor league IF Nelson Ward
  • November 13    Signed OF Franklin Gutierrez to one-year contract
  • November 16    Traded RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF James Jones and a player to be named later (Patrick Kivlehan) to Texas for OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass
  • November 20    Designated LHP Danny Hultzen for assignment; outrighted to minor leagues (Nov. 25)
  • November 20    Traded OF Ramon Flores to Milwaukee for IF Luis Sardiñas
  • November 23    Signed free agent C Chris Iannetta
  • November 23    Designated C John Hicks for assignment; claimed by Minnesota off waivers (Dec. 2)
  • December 2       Acquired 1B Andy Wilkins off waivers from Baltimore
  • December 2       Signed free agent RHP Justin De Fratus
  • December 2       Designated LHP Edgar Olmos for assignment; claimed by Chicago-NL off waivers (Dec. 4)
  • December 2       Traded OF Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser to Baltimore for C Steve Clevenger
  • December 3       Signed OF Nori Aoki to a one-year contract with mutual vesting option for 2017 season
  • December 4       Traded RHP Jose Ramirez to Atlanta for a player to be named later and cash considerations

Twitter Takeover with Jerry Dipoto

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It’s no secret to the baseball world that Jerry Dipoto has been busy since taking the reigns at Safeco Field. In his two months as Mariners GM, Dipoto has made five trades, signed three free agents and claimed two players off waivers in an effort to revamp the roster in his vision, all before heading into next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sandwiched between yesterday’s flurry of moves and today’s signing of Nori Aoki, he somehow found time to sit down and answer questions from fans on Twitter. Jerry weighed in on his team-building philosophies, his time in Seattle, his favorite Christmas movie and everything in between. At one point, #AskDipoto was even trending in Seattle.

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Here’s a recap of his answers:

All good things must eventually come to end. After a solid 30 minutes of answering questions, Jerry had to get back to work.

In fact, less than an hour after wrapping things up with fans on Twitter, it was officially announced that Nori Aoki had signed with the club for the 2016 season with an option for 2017.

Thanks again to everyone that participated in today’s chat.

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