There have been no hints as to which way Dipoto is leaning. Baseball sources have indicated that a decision and an announcement on the manager position might not come until next week.

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For the first time since 2008, the Mariners enter an offseason without Jack Zduriencik making the organizational decisions.

After seven years with just two winning seasons and no playoff appearances, the Mariners have changed direction and general managers, handing control to Jerry Dipoto in hopes of returning to the postseason for the first time since 2001 — the longest drought in baseball.

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“The media and those within the industry really thought this team, in 2015, had a chance to do really good things,” Dipoto said at his introductory news conference. “That wasn’t accidental. Now we have to figure what went wrong. I think I have a reasonable idea of what went wrong. Some of it starts with what we said were the needs. And when we get to the point we address those needs, we’ll be right back where we need to be, in the world of World Series contender.”

Mariners contracts

A look at the contract status of some notable Mariners players:

Under contract

• 2B Robinson Cano (signed through 2023)

• OF/DH Nelson Cruz (signed through 2018)

• RHP Felix Hernandez (signed through 2019)

• LHP Danny Hultzen (signed through 2016)

• 3B Kyle Seager (signed through 2021, option in 2022)

• OF Seth Smith (signed through 2016, option for 2017)

Free agents to be

• LHP Joe Beimel

• OF Franklin Gutierrez

• RHP Hisashi Iwakuma


• LHP Charlie Furbush (second year)

• 1B Logan Morrison (third year)

• 1B/OF Mark Trumbo (third year)

• RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (second year)

Out of minor-league options for 2016

• OF Ramon Flores

• LHP Lucas Luetge

• LHP Danny Hultzen

• 1B/DH Jesus Montero

• LHP Mike Montgomery

• LHP Edgar Olmos

• RHP Jose Ramirez

One of the first things Dipoto must determine is who will lead that team on the field next season.

Will it be manager Lloyd McClendon, who is under contract through 2016? Or will Dipoto choose his own manager? Tim Bogar, who was a special assistant to Dipoto with the Angels, has been rumored to be a possibility, and Bud Black, who went to high school in Longview, is available after being fired during the season by the Padres.

“I look in the mirror every night and know that I gave it everything I had every day,” McClendon said. “My players gave me everything they had every day. Some nights it was good enough. Some nights it wasn’t very good. The effort was always there. Obviously we have to shore some things up from a talent standpoint.”

McClendon expected to meet with Dipoto and others this week to go over the 2015 season and the roster.

“We’ll continue to talk,” McClendon said. “I think our talks have been very productive and very good. I don’t think there is any particularly timetable for that. Well see. Hopefully in the next week to 10 days something will be taken care of, one way or the other.”

There have been no hints as to which way Dipoto is leaning. Baseball sources have indicated that a decision and an announcement on the manager position might not come until next week.

Once Dipoto decides on his manager, he’ll have to address the roster.

The looming free agency of starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who finished 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts, is on the list. The Mariners, and specifically Zduriencik, didn’t trade the veteran right-hander at the deadline because they wanted to sign him to an extension. Dipoto has similar intentions.

“It’s a priority to at least explore that,” he said. “I know Kuma wants to be here. We’d certainly like him to be here. Now it’s a matter of sitting down and finding out if there’s a common place we meet. It seems a good marriage.”

Sources have said Iwakuma, 34, is seeking a three-year contract. Even though he has battled injuries, Iwakuma has been a bargain for the Mariners, who have not paid him more than $7 million per season. It’s likely he’ll want more than $10 million per season.

Beyond Iwakuma, the Mariners have to decisions to make in shortstop, center field and catcher. Ketel Marte added athleticism to the lineup — hitting .283 with a 351. on-base percentage in 57 games at the leadoff spot. He looked like a second baseman playing shortstop but made most of the routine plays, something that had been lacking at that position.

“I think he’s a major-league player, and he’s ready to play in the major leagues,” Dipoto said. “Whether you’re ready to give him 650 plate appearances as a shortstop remains to be seen, but he’s certainly done a large part toward making me more comfortable to make that move.”

Center field isn’t quite so simple. Besides James Jones, the Mariners don’t have a true center fielder on the 40-man roster. They tried Brad Miller in the final months of the season. But most scouts believe Miller projects as a corner outfielder — something the Mariners also need.

There will be free-agent center fielders available this offseason, notably Dexter Fowler, Denard Span and Colby Rasmus.

With so much invested in Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, it seems unlikely that the Mariners will be in play for front-line free agents such as Jason Heyward or Justin Upton, who are seeking contracts in the $100 million range.

Building through free agency is not Dipoto’s philosophy.

“I will be frank: The trade market is always my first alternative,” he said. “You draft, scout and develop, you trade, and to me free agents augment the roster you have. In a perfect world, you get to a stage where the foundation is strong enough you use free agency as a pure accent move rather than a foundational builder.”

With a farm system lacking top-level prospects, trading could be difficult. Dipoto could move Mark Trumbo, which he did in Anaheim, in return for depth. Trumbo had a solid final three months of the season and likely will make near $9 million this season in his final season of arbitration. Outfielder Seth Smith and young pitchers such as James Paxton and Roenis Elias also could bring back decent returns.

Catching is a different issue. Mike Zunino is retooling his swing in Arizona and hopes to be ready for next season, but that’s far from a given. Meanwhile, none of the players called up in the final month of the season — Jesus Sucre, John Hicks or Steven Baron — is an everyday player.

Finding a replacement won’t be easy. There is a lack of good catching throughout baseball. Free agent Matt Wieters likely will be out of Seattle’s price range, and Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro and A.J. Pierzynski are nearing backup status with each passing year.

The Mariners could also use some help in the bullpen and, if Trumbo is dealt, at first base.

Dipoto takes over a team with a solid core of players. But the 25- and 40-man roster needs serious upgrades if the Mariners want to postseason contenders in 2016. It’s not simple.

“I believe in my own ability, mostly believe in my ability to put the right people around me to help me do the job well,” Dipoto said. “I do believe I’ve been a good evaluator through the years, and I will continue address those needs. I’ve checked down in a lot of areas in scouting. Most importantly, it’s getting the right players and putting them in the right environment.”