Referring to someone as a lame duck always seems particularly cruel. It’s better than being a dead duck, or the duck-related “quack”, or having your goose cooked, but it’s seemingly universally understood that we should avoid being waterfowl. Among many of the concerns entering 2018 was the uncertainty of direction for the M’s organization. Most pressingly, there was speculation that failure to break the playoff drought would spell the end of Jerry Dipoto’s tenure. We have an answer.
As is typical of the Mariners and much of MLB, the details of the contract are not publicly discussed, but multi-year means at least through 2020. Of course, as we saw with Jack Zduriencik, multi-year extensions are not a complete bulwark against regime change, as Zduriencik was fired less than a year and a half after a “multi-year contract extension” of his own. Dipoto’s extension, obviously, comes under better circumstances, and after just two-and-a-half seasons compared to Zduriencik’s five.
During the offseason, there were rumblings nationally that Dipoto’s seat was heating up despite having completed just two seasons. The disastrous 2017 season, in which the 78-win Mariners saw multiple key acquisitions of Dipoto’s spend extensive time on the disabled list, weighed heavily on the minds of fans, reporters, and, assuredly, ownership. Sticking with much of the same core, the Mariners have enjoyed a comparatively healthy season and multiple breakout star turns from moves Dipoto can reasonably feather his cap with. The farm system remains one of the thinnest in all of baseball, but an improved organizational philosophy (read: any organized philosophy whatsoever) has at least meant a step up in consistency in the minor leagues. Most importantly, the Mariners are winning, and doing so with a group of players who are, save for Nelson Cruz (for now), under contract through the rest of this decade at minimum. Dipoto, it appears, will be given the chance to see that core ride together again beyond this season.
On the whole, this seems like cause for celebration. Dipoto is smart, likable, and seemingly has a strong sense of how to manage an organization - something his scouting skilled but organizationally-challenged predecessor did not possess. While I personally, and many of the members of the staff here, have a positive feeling towards Dipoto’s work on the whole, that was a much more ambiguous feeling this offseason. In fact, at the pre-season presser, the spin the organization was putting out was downright infuriating at times. They were, as we put it at the time “banking on confidence they hadn’t earned.”
Yet this year they’ve earned it. It’s not just a short-term reaction to positive results - the Mariners were betting on their true talent exceeding public projections and expectations, and they have done that. Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger are stars. Edwin Díaz is like if you got a blue shell when you were winning the race. THIS FREAKING QUOTE HAS BEEN ENTIRELY ACCURATE:
Jerry Dipoto says he's not sure outside of last year's ALDS teams that any team in the AL has a better starting rotation than the @Mariners.— Brent Stecker (@BrentStecker) January 25, 2018
The Mariners are 220-192 with a .534 winning percentage during Dipoto’s tenure, which is good. With job security going forward, Dipoto is hopefully secure to avoid the trappings of lame duck general managers and flail wildly for a burst of glory. This is the Mariners, and they will be Dipoto’s Mariners the next couple years too. Here’s to another couple years of C the Z.