Jerry diPoto was given the job as Mariners General Manager in September 2015. He would replace the beleaguered Jack Zduriencik. Since then, he has been evolving the roster in the way diPoto feels is best, by making 35 trades. The 2016-2017 offseason is full of Mariner trades. Since the start of the new calendar year, it seems like someone is heading to or from the Pacific Northwest. It is time just to see how the Mariners roster has evolved since their season ended in Game 161 of the 2016 season.
Before the season ended, diPoto traded away Mike Montgomery to the Cubs for infield prospect Dan Vogelbach. Vogelbach was an in demand player at the trade deadline. There was a lot of speculation he could go to the New York Yankees in an Aroldis Chapman trade. We know how Montgomery’s season ended, clinching the World Series for the Chicago Cubs. August 6 marked a trade for flamethrowing right-hander and 100-tool name Arquimedes Caminero. On August 15, he traded Luis Sardinas to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later. On August 31, traded two right-handed pitchers to the New York Yankees for outfielder Ben Gamel. Then, on September 13, he traded Wade LeBlanc to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later. The next day, he did the same with Joe Wieland to the Atlanta Braves.
After the season, the Mariners went bananas. To clear up roster space, diPoto designated Steven Baron for assignment. He also outrighted Charlie Furbush, Ryan Cook and Steve Clevenger, and acquired Ryan Weber from the Braves off waivers. Adrian Sampson was claimed off the Mariners roster by the Texas Rangers. The next day, after five players declared free agency, Nori Aoki was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros. The day after that, the Mariners acquired lefty Dean Kiekhefer off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.
After a couple days of peace, the Mariners made an interesting decision and acquired catcher Carlos Ruiz. This was in return for pitcher Vidal Nuno from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Already having two catchers on the roster including top prospect Mike Zunino along with the backup in Jesus Sucre, Ruiz does not have a clear spot on the roster. Nuno had established himself as a reliable bullpen piece for Scott Servais.
Five days later, diPoto made his next big move, acquiring third baseman Danny Valencia from the rival Oakland Athletics for right-hander Paul Blackburn. Kyle Seager is the Mariners’ star third baseman, and Valencia will only get to play there once in a while. Valencia is likely to play a utility role along with being a DH on days when they do not need one. A trade on November 18 made this decision look even stranger as they acquired infielder Richie Shaffer and shortstop Taylor Motter from the Tampa Bay Rays. This was for pitchers Andrew Kittredge and Dylan Thompson along with first-baseman Dalton Kelly.
That same day, the Mariners acquired left-handed pitcher James Pazos from the New York Yankees for right-hand pitching prospect Zack Littell. This while designating beleaguered pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen for assignment and releasing Stefen Romero. That day, they also had David Rollins acquired on waivers by the Cubs, beginning what has been a rollercoaster offseason for the pitcher.
Just as everyone was settling down for their Thanksgiving dinner, the Mariners made another trade. This time sending shortstop Ketel Marte and right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In return, they received second baseman Jean Segura, outfield prospect Mitch Haniger and lefty pitcher Zac Curtis. The door had shut on Taijuan Walker’s promise, as he had failed to live up to the hype Jack Z and company brought to the Mariners with him. At the same time, the Mariners designated switch-pitcher Pat Venditte for assignment.
With the Winter Meetings fast approaching, diPoto would send right-fielder Alex Jackson and a PTBNL to the Atlanta Braves (a very familiar trading partner) for right-handers Max Povse and Rob Whalen. The next day, to make room on the 40 man roster, they designated Ryan Weber for assignment. The Winter Meetings were calm for the Mariners, who would acquire Chris Heston from the San Francisco Giants for a PTBNL. In doing so, they designated Richie Shaffer for assignment, who was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The waiver wire would define the Mariners’ month of December. On December 3, they made two new signings. First for left-hander Marc “Scrabble” Rzepczynski and right-hander Casey Fien. In doing so, they designated Dean Kiekhefer for assignment along with right-handed starter Zach Lee. Lee was acquired from the Dodgers during the 2016 season for Chris Taylor. On December 9, the Mariners traded Tyler Pike, a left-handed pitcher, to the Atlanta Braves as well as outrighting Kiekhefer. The final big move of December 2016 was the release of Arquimedes Caminero to pursue a position in Japan.
The Mariners won’t make any more moves, right?. Wrong. On January 6, the Mariners announced that they traded outfielder Seth Smith for a new starting pitcher. Baltimore’s Yovani Gallardo and cash to support his salary would be added to a struggling staff. The same day, they traded away starter Nate Karns to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. This makes no sense if the idea was to have a stable starting rotation. Just to make sure things were not strange enough the Braves would add outfielder Mallex Smith and pitcher Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves for lefty pitchers Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows. They then flipped Mallex Smith to the Rays along with Ryan Yarbrough and Carlos Vargas for Drew Smyly.
So after all this, let us look at the moving parts since the end of the 2016 season:
- Acquired (20): Danny Valencia, James Pazos, Dean Kiekhefer, Mark Rzepcyznski, Casey Fien, Yovani Gallardo, Mallex Smith, Shae Simmons, Carlos Ruiz, Richie Shaffer, Jarrod Dyson, Taylor Motter, Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, Zac Curtis, Chris Heston, Max Povse, Rob Whalen, Ryan Weber, Drew Smyly
- Deported (33): Seth Smith, Ryan Weber, David Rollins, Zach Lee, Nate Karns, Luiz Gohara, Thomas Burrows, Paul Blackburn, Arquimedes Caminero, Tom Wilhelmsen, Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte, Vidal Nuno, Richie Shaffer, Stefen Romero, Andrew Kittredge, Dalton Kelly, Dylan Thompson, Zack Littell, Pat Venditte, Alex Jackson, Charlie Furbush, Steve Clevenger, Adrian Sampson, Kevin Gadea, Steven Baron, Mallex Smith, Ryan Yarbrough, Carlos Vargas
That is insane; beyond insane, crazy. 48 players would move to or from the Seattle Mariners organization in one offseason. The offseason has not even ended yet as it is only mid-January. Jerry diPoto has an idea of his dream team and he is making sure he has all the pieces he needs to have a competitor. He hopes to break the longest postseason drought in the league. We have not even discussed Nelson Cruz or Robinson Cano or even Felix Hernandez. All of which are on the team as well. DiPoto has a lot in mind, and he is not content with what he has, yet.