It's quite possible that, come October, Dipoto doesn't look nearly as capable as he does right now. For now, the Team Jerry Built is soaring. He deserves everything he's gotten.
Yes, the one-run wins have added luster to his résumé. And, sure, the come-from-behind victories have accentuated his good deeds.
If your team is 22 games above .500 with a +15 run differential, Lady Luck usually deserves a generous tip.
But that doesn’t mean Jerry Dipoto didn’t earn this extension. It doesn’t mean the Mariners general manager isn’t exactly what this playoff-starved organization needed.
Friday, the M’s announced that they were extending Dipoto’s contract for what’s believed to be at least through 2020. The team decided to provide job security for a man whose seat seemed to be nearing a boil during the offseason.
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Entertaining as Jerry’s over-caffeinated trading habits were over his first two years, they didn’t generate the desired results for a franchise 17 years removed from its last postseason appearance. But 2018 has been special. This is the year that re-captivated baseball fans in Seattle — the year that packed Safeco Field with butts regardless of the opponent.
And Dipoto damn well deserves credit.
Which move do you want to start with? There are countless to analyze when it comes to “Trader Jerry,” but the most significant was probably him dealing Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to Arizona for Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger.
Since that pre-2017 trade, Walker and Marte have a combined WAR of 5.4. Segura and Haniger, meanwhile, have combined for a WAR of 11.4.
When your most high-profile transaction results in your two new players providing more than double the production of your two old players, it’s a good place to start. But there’s more.
There was dealing away hot prospect Tyler O’Neill for pitcher Marco Gonzales, who has been a consistent, sometimes All-Starish starting pitcher. There was the August, 2017 signing of Mike Leake, who has already amassed more than 111 innings this season.
Dipoto got Ben Gamel. He got Ryon Healy, too. He recognized a win-now situation in late May and picked up Denard Span and Alex Colome.
But you could make the case that some of Dipoto’s best decisions have been characterized by what he didn’t do.
It was likely tempting to trade Nelson Cruz a couple years back given his age and 40-plus-home-run production. But Dipoto stuck with a man that has been just as good at 38 as he was at 34.
It was likely tempting to sign a “big name” starting pitcher this offseason given the Mariners’ rotation woes in 2017. But Dipoto resisted, saved the club a whole lot of money, and has watched the M’s emerge as one of the better pitching teams in baseball.
I’m not trying to say that Dipoto has been perfect. He traded Chris Taylor to the Dodgers just before his 4.7 WAR season. He traded Mark Trumbo to the Orioles before his 47 home run season. Logan Morrison and Brad Miller also had big years for the Rays after Dipoto dealt them away, but aside from Taylor, none of those guys are having major impacts on their rosters these days.
As for the Mariners? Well, just look at the standings or the crowd sizes, and you’ll see there’s been quite a bit of impact.
Last year, former Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal quoted an anonymous executive, who, when asked about Dipoto’s approach, said “I’ve never gotten it. It feels like he has made 348 trades to turn a .500 team into a .500 team.”
To be fair, the 2016 Mariners finished 10 games better than the 2015 Mariners before dipping back down to 78 wins last year. But the quote wasn’t without merit.
Now? It doesn’t hold up at all. Now, despite losing Robinson Cano for 80 games, the Mariners entered Saturday with a seven-game lead in the wild-card standings. Now, the Mariners have a slew of needle-moving players under contract control through the end of the decade, meaning summers like this could become common.
Sure, it’s quite possible that, come October, Dipoto doesn’t look nearly as capable as he does right now. The baseball gods are known for making cruel gestures like that.
For now, though, the Team Jerry Built is soaring. He deserves everything he’s gotten.