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Mariners to make cuts in scouting/baseball ops departments

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the Mariners are the latest to join a troubling trend

Spring Training Baseball 2012 Photo by Jim Sugar/Corbis via Getty Images

Yesterday news broke via Ken Rosenthal that the Mariners plan to cut ties with several members of their baseball operations department, including veteran scouting executives, at the conclusion of the 2020 season. Among the names that have been mentioned so far are VP of scouting Tom Allison, special assistant to the general manager Tom McNamara, crosschecker Jason Karegeannes, pro scout Greg Hunter, and Northwest area scout Alex Ross.

The most well-known names made public thus far are Allison and McNamara, who both predated Jerry Dipoto’s time with the Mariners. Allison, a Klamath Falls/Vancouver, WA native and former Mets farmhand, joined Seattle in 2013 under Jack Zduriencik as the director of professional scouting, a role he previously held with the Diamondbacks, where he oversaw the scouting and drafting of players like Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Davidson, Chris Owings, and A.J. Pollock. Allison was promoted to VP in 2015 by Dipoto in the first months of the new regime, charged with overseeing all scouting operations.

McNamara is even longer tenured, joining the M’s as an area scout in 1994 and serving in that role through 2000, before moving to the Brewers for most of the next decade. When Jack Z was hired, he brought McNamara with him to be the club’s head of amateur scouting, which he held from November 2008 until September 2016, when he was moved to his special assistant role. The head of amateur scouting role is a particularly public-facing one, as it put McNamara in the driver’s seat for most of the MLB drafts during that period, a role now occupied by Scott Hunter. McNamara is well-respected in the industry, and news of his contract being terminated has provoked expressions of dismay in several high-profile analysts, including MLB’s prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis.

One of the lesser-known names on the list is Alex Ross, son of former Mariners scout and UW/WSU coach Joe Ross, a former Mariners draft choice (2012) who attended Lake Washington HS in Kirkland.

Per Ryan Divish, most of the other pro scouting staff will remain along with some area scouts. For now we’ll assume this means Four Corners area scout Amanda Hopkins, notable for being one of the few women scouts in baseball, is still with the organization. (Update: she will not be retained, per Divish.) Another notable name that doesn’t seem to be on the chopping block is Tim Stanton, son of owner John Stanton. The younger Stanton began with the club as a baseball ops intern in 2014-15, was promoted to an assistant in 2015, then became a scouting coordinator in 2016, and recently has ascended to the role of manager of baseball operations, a quick rise through the ranks, and one it appears will continue.

While we hope that “shaking up” the scouting department, in particular, might result in the Mariners employing a more diverse group of scouts—Kate was particularly dismayed to go to a Diversity and Inclusion event at the Winter Meetings this past year and see the Mariners table staffed with no under-represented groups, an effort made by every other team in attendance except the Brewers, who only had a worse showing due to their table being entirely empty—this unfortunately feels more in keeping with the current trends in baseball organizations. This trend started, as all bad trends do, with the McKinsey-informed Astros, who began releasing scouts en masse in favor of machine-collected data last year, and was exacerbated by the COVID-19 health crisis, leading to massive cuts across the industry in all areas of baseball organizations. According to Jon Heyman, the “bloodbath” is around 16 employees.

Coronavirus crisis aside, it’s particularly curious timing for the Mariners, whom most industry experts don’t consider finished with their rebuild, ahead of a draft where they are all but guaranteed to pick in or close to the top ten once again. The McNamara-Allison team oversaw the scouting, drafting, and acquisition of virtually everyone who will be a significant piece of the Mariners’ future, from Kyle Lewis to Evan White to Julio Rodriguez to Jarred Kelenic to George Kirby to Emerson Hancock. Hopefully the transition to whatever comes next will be as seamless as possible considering a large part of the team’s scouting identity that will walk out the door in October.

Update:

Per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, we now have a longer list of the scouting, baseball ops, and player development personnel who will not be retained, as well as reasoning from owner John Stanton. From Divish:

Mariners chairman John Stanton stopped in the T-Mobile Park press box Friday to clarify the reasoning.

Given the financial situation of the organization and other franchises during the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortened season without fans in attendance, there was going to be some changes. Stanton said that some of the cuts were directly due to the lost revenues of the 2020 season.