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Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Out of Right Field: Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has landed some big ones

UPDATED: Sat., July 28, 2018

By Gene Warnick The Spokesman-Review

When Mariners manager Scott Servais was asked recently about the wheeling and dealing of general manager Jerry Dipoto, his longtime friend, Servais likened it to a trip to the supermarket.

Dipoto does the shopping and Servais turns the groceries into a meal.

For the first time in quite a while, the Mariners are dining well.

Whether they have room for dessert – their first postseason trip since 2001 – depends on what’s left on aisle 2018.

By the time you’ve made it through the checkout line at the new Costco in north Spokane, there’s a chance Dipoto might have made another deal.

After all, he is known as “Trader Jerry.” Since taking over the job Sept. 28, 2015, Dipoto has made 53 deals – including one Friday with the St. Louis Cardinals in which the M’s got right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala.

Will Dipoto make another shopping trip before Tuesday’s 1 p.m. nonwaiver trading deadline, with the Mariners barely hanging on to the American League’s second and final wild-card berth?

“I think he’ll be busy,” Servais said. “He’s going to be on the phone a lot, trying to figure out different things that might help our club. It’s a busy time, no question, and an exciting time. I do know it’s much more fun being on the buyer’s side than the seller’s side.”

But are there any deals left to be had?

Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, two starting pitchers the Mariners might have had interest in, are gone (Hamels to the Chicago Cubs and Happ to the New York Yankees). The Tampa Bay Rays, a frequent trading partner for Dipoto, sent starter Nathan Eovaldi to Boston.

The Rays could move Chris Archer, but they reportedly want a return commensurate with a No. 1 starter. Toronto has taken a similar position with Marcus Stroman.

The Mariners don’t have the goods to barter. They have only one minor leaguer among’s top 100 prospects, and that’s oft-injured outfielder Kyle Lewis at No. 85.

That leaves Dipoto looking at day-old merchandise in the pitching bin.

The Mariners were reportedly one of 12 teams to have scouts watch the last start for New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler. They could also go after Cincinnati’s Matt Harvey, although he’s a free agent after the season and Dipoto prefers players who would remain under club control past 2018. They’ve been linked to relievers such as Miami’s Brad Ziegler and Houston’s Ken Giles, who is currently in Triple-A.

One national baseball columnist suggested the Mariners should add another outfield bat and target the Chicago White Sox’s Avisail Garcia. Problem is, Garcia has spent two stints on the disabled list with hamstring issues this season and might not be capable of winning a footrace with Nelson Cruz.

Remember, eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano is due back in the Mariners’ lineup Aug. 14 after an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Even though he’s ineligible for the postseason, Cano could certainly help the M’s get there.

“I’m not sure how many position players and starting pitchers of note will move at this deadline,” Dipoto said when announcing Servais’ contract extension a couple of weeks ago. “I think a lot of the business will be done around bullpens. We’ve certainly had our feelers out there on a variety of different things that would help our pitching staff, whether it be bullpen or starting pitching.

“And we’ve even kept some feelers out there for the potential to add a position player, whether something versatile or just an addition that might help us in some way, whether upgrading defense or helping to goose our offense. But we do know that with Cano coming back, I don’t want to call that a primary concern. We do want to focus on pitching.”

While the Mariners are bereft of top prospects, Dipoto stressed payroll isn’t an issue.

“We’re not going out there determining or judging the best upgrade for us on a paycheck,” he said. “It could be a player making $1 million or a player making $10 million. … I do know we have the resources to do it. Whether we have the prospect capital to do that, I can’t promise. But I know we have the financial capital.”

Sounds like “Trader Jerry” has got some more shopping to do. Just beware those roundabouts en route to the market. Hear they can be confusing.

A dozen Dipoto deals

Jerry Dipoto has made 53 trades since becoming the Mariners’ general manager on Sept. 28, 2015. We take a look at the 12 most impactful deals by “Trader Jerry” with a Pike Place Market-themed fish-tossing scoring system (three for best, one for worst):

Nov. 5, 2015

The trade: RHP Danny Farquhar, SS Brad Miller and 1B Logan Morrison to Tampa Bay for RHP Nate Karns, OF Boog Powell and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser.

The skinny: Miller and Morrison both had 30-HR seasons for the Rays; Karns went 6-2 with a 5.15 ERA in his only season in Seattle.

Rating: One out of three fish

Dec. 2, 2015

The trade: OF Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser to Baltimore for C Steve Clevenger.

The skinny: Trumbo led the American League with 47 HRs in 2016 while Clevenger hit .221 in 22 games before breaking his hand. He was suspended for a racist tweet later that season, effectively ending his career in organized ball.

Rating: One fish

Dec. 7, 2015

The trade: LHP Roenis Elias and RHP Carson Smith to Boston for LHP Wade Miley and RHP Jonathan Aro.

The skinny: Elias is back with the M’s and Smith has made just 29 relief appearances for the Red Sox in three seasons because of injuries. Miley went 7-8 in Seattle before being swapped to Baltimore for LHP Ariel Miranda.

Rating: Two fish

June 19, 2016

The trade: SS Chris Taylor to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Zach Lee.

The skinny: Taylor remade his swing and became a valuable utility player in L.A., helping the Dodgers reach the World Series last year. Lee, a former first-round pick, went 0-9 with a 7.39 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Tacoma in 2016 before being placed on waivers.

Rating: One fish

July 20, 2016

Traded: LHP Mike Montgomery and RHP Jordan Pries to the Chicago Cubs for LHP Paul Blackburn and 1B Dan Vogelbach.

The skinny: Montgomery is a valuable member of the Cubs’ staff, both out of the bullpen and when called upon to start. He appeared in five games in the 2016 World Series, as the Cubs ended their 108-year title drought. Blackburn was flipped that offseason to Oakland for 1B Danny Valencia, and Vogelbach has yet to prove he can hit major-league pitching.

Rating: One fish

Nov. 23, 2016

The trade: RHP Taijuan Walker and SS Ketel Marte to Arizona for SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger and LHP Zac Curtis.

The skinny: Marte is batting .246 and Walker is out for the season after Tommy John surgery. Segura is fourth in the American League in batting (.321) and Haniger is sixth in RBIs (67), with both representing the A.L. in the All-Star Game earlier this month.

Rating: Three fish

Jan. 11, 2017

The trade: OF Mallex Smith, LHP Ryan Yarbrough and minor-league IF Carlos Vargas to Tampa Bay for LHP Drew Smyly.

The skinny: Smith, who was a Mariner for 77 minutes after being acquired earlier that day from Atlanta, is batting .286 with 18 stolen bases and has started at all three OF positions this season for the Rays, while Yarbrough is 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA. Smyly never pitched a regular-season game for the M’s after being injured while with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic. Considering Seattle gave up one of its top prospects, LHP Luiz Gohara, to get Smith, these two deals could haunt Dipoto.

Rating: One fish

July 21, 2017

The trade: Minor-league OF Tyler O’Neill to St. Louis for LHP Marco Gonzales.

The skinny: The deal angered many M’s fans because O’Neill was the top power-hitting prospect in the organization and was from nearby Burnaby, B.C., especially after Gonzales struggled to get through the opposing lineup more than twice last season. But another year removed from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of 2016, and the former Gonzaga standout has a team-high 11 wins this season for Seattle.

Rating: Two fish

Aug. 30, 2017

The trade: Minor-league IF Rayder Ascanio to St. Louis for RHP Mike Leake, cash and international bonus slot money.

The skinny: Ascanio is playing in the low Class A Midwest League, while Leake is 11-7 as a Mariner. If the international money had helped the M’s lure two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani, this would’ve been worth all the fish you could catch at the Pike Place Market.

Rating: Three fish

Nov. 15, 2017

The trade: RHP Emilio Pagan and minor-league IF Alexander Campos for 1B Ryon Healy.

The skinny: Pagan is 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the A’s, showing his rookie season in Seattle was no fluke. Healy has 21 homers for the M’s and could be a long-term solution at first base (provided he’s not traded by Tuesday).

Rating: Two fish

Dec. 7, 2017

The trade: Minor-league RHPs Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert and IF Christopher Torres to Miami for IF/OF Dee Gordon.

The skinny: If the Mariners make the playoffs for the first time since 2001, snapping the longest drought in the four major professional sports, this will be a date which will live in infamy. Gordon has been a spark atop the M’s lineup, leading the A.L. with 23 stolen bases, and his enthusiasm has been infectious in the clubhouse. He worked hard to become a satisfactory center fielder, a position he had never played, and has shown why he was a Gold Glove winner at second base since taking over there for the suspended Robinson Cano.

Rating: Three fish

May 25, 2018

The trade: Minor-league RHPs Tommy Romero and Andrew Moore to Tampa Bay for OF Denard Span, RHP Alex Colome and cash.

The skinny: Dipoto used some of the $11 million the M’s saved with Cano’s 80-game suspension to acquire Span, a veteran outfielder with a .282 career average, and Colome, who led the A.L. with 47 saves last season. Moore made his major-league debut with Seattle last year but showed he’s probably no better than a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Rating: Three fish

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