Jerry Dipoto set out on a conquest to discover this age-old riddle, one that the Mariners have perpetually fallen short of solving. The tireless negotiator’s busy offseason leaves Seattle with only nine players on the 40-man roster that have been here longer than he has. It’s not the quantity of moves, however, that sticks out about this offseason, but the quality. Trader Jerry successfully improved the Seattle Mariners roster in the short term without discounting the organization’s future.
In just about every facet of the game, Seattle made some sort of marked improvement. The offseason started with Paul Blackburn getting sent to Oakland in exchange for Danny Valencia, who will platoon at first base with Dan Vogelbach. Steamer projects Vogelbach and Valencia to run 105 and 99 wRC+ respectively, an improvement over 102 and 92 wRC+ seasons from Dae-Ho Lee and Adam Lind. The Mariners continued to strengthen their infield, acquiring 2016 NL hits leader Jean Segura in a blockbuster deal that shipped Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to Arizona. Flipping Vidal Nuno for Carlos Ruiz adds a veteran presence behind the plate who’s experienced both offensive and defensive success.
The Segura deal also brought everybody’s new favorite Mariner Mitch Haniger aboard. As the everyday replacement in right field, he’ll prove to be a massive defensive upgrade with offensive upside to boot. Seattle found their everyday left fielder a little later in the offseason when they traded Nathan Karns for Jarrod Dyson, who brings top-end speed and defense to the table. The thought of an outfield featuring three players capable of playing centerfield makes me think back to last year when Leonys Martin was hurt, and the Mariners would roll out outfields with some combination of Seth Smith, Norichika Aoki, Nelson Cruz, and Franklin Gutierrez. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.
Acquiring Segura and Dyson left holes in the pitching rotation, which Jerry promptly patched. Hours before the Dyson trade, Seattle had traded Smith, who was expendable because of Haniger, for Yovani Gallardo. A little less than a week later, the Mariners landed Drew Smyly after borrowing Mallex Smith for a glorious 45 minutes. Gallardo and Smyly slot in nicely behind Hernandez, Kuma, and Paxton. The acquisitions of Chris Heston and Rob Whalen bolster the rotation’s depth, while Max Povse’s addition gives Seattle one for the future.
The Mariners also made moves in the pen, replacing Nuno with another lefty in Marc Rzepczynski. Shae Simmons also migrated to Seattle — from Atlanta — as a part of the two deals that netted Smyly. Zac Curtis joined the Mariners in the deal for Haniger and Segura. The signing of Casey Fein further fortified an already strong group of relievers. Joining the likes of Edwin Diaz, Steve Cishek, Nick Vincent, Dan Altivilla, Evan Scribner, and Ariel Miranda, there will be plenty of competition to fill out the back end of the ‘pen.
The Mariners got better everywhere without suffering any irreplaceable losses. The biggest departures of the offseason include Walker, Marte, Karns, and Luis Gohara. If you consider who’s replacing them, however, the losses are much easier to stomach. Although he’s a few years older, Smyly is still a somewhat youthful pitcher who has enjoyed some MLB success to this point in his career. Povse, while he couldn’t be more different than Gohara, is another promising prospect that fits the bill of a cog in the Mariner’s rotation down the road. Marte flashed a lot of upside, but Segura’s 5.0 WAR 2016 speaks for itself. Gallardo ideally will contribute to the back end of the rotation in a manner similar to Karns.
The number of moves Jerry made definitely have outnumbered how many hours of sleep he gotten so far this offseason, and that has paid dividends for the Seattle Mariners.