Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto’s frequent roster tinkering is now legend. It’s only natural to wonder whether the club’s fast start to the 2019 season will spur another round of action, and Dipoto discussed the matter with Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
Dipoto’s most recent round of tweaks was intended to set the club up for near-future success, with the idea being to spend a year regrouping in hopes of a breakout 2020 campaign. While he says an 11-2 run to begin the year won’t likely result in a mid-season buying spree, the top Seattle baseball exec did seem to acknowledge that the performance could impact the team’s roster calculations.
First and foremost, Dipoto made clear that the M’s “won’t take anything away from our long-term plan in order to address short-term needs.” But he wasn’t shy to admit that he’s “intrigued” and “excited” by the development and output he’s seen from the roster he has already assembled. If the club is “still performing like the best lineup in history” at the trade deadline, he says, “clearly we’ll address areas of need.”
It sounds as if the door is at least potentially open to some win-now movement, then, though the Mariners will likely see how things play out and may not be overly bold when the time comes. As Dipoto says, though, he has been “creative” in his past dealmaking — including an early-season, buy-side swap last year — so it’s tough to rule anything out.
Putting aside the possibility of additions, the early run may be enough to stave off or even eliminate some veteran departures that might otherwise have been anticipated. “The way guys are playing together right now, I have no interest in changing the rhythm and mojo going on,” Dipoto said when asked about some of the team’s short-term, elder statesmen. “Let’s let it play out a bit.”
That attitude seemingly represents a departure from the late-spring dealmaking posture that the M’s seemed to take. Their decision to hold onto sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce, in particular, seemed mostly to reflect a lack of demand. Keeping them on the roster was supposed to help keep the team competitive and provide a showcase for a potential mid-season swap.
Now, there’s a greater likelihood that the Mariners will at least hold steady and let the roster take things wherever it can. But as Dipoto and Stone both caution, there’s still plenty of time in advance of the trade deadline for the situation to change. For now, the GM is just watching and enjoying.