Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto continues to rebuild his ballclub, trading three 19-year-old pitchers to Milwaukee in exchange for Adam Lind, a high on-base percentage hitter.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Months before the final details were agreed upon and Jerry Dipoto had his starting first baseman, the new Mariners general manager — just days into his job — knew he wanted to find a way to pry Adam Lind from the Milwaukee Brewers.
“He’s been a target really throughout the offseason,” Dipoto said. “I’ve had many, many conversations with (Brewers GM) David Stearns, since shortly after both of us got our jobs.”
On Wednesday morning at baseball’s winter meetings, Dipoto finalized the deal to acquire Lind for three minor-league right-handed pitchers — Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki and Freddy Peralta.
“Adam really suits us well,” Dipoto said. “He has historically torched right-hand pitching, and there’s no reason for us to believe that will change. He gets on base. He manages the strike zone well. He doesn’t strike out much for a guy with power. He’s a good hitter and uses the field to hit. It’s a nice package for us.”
Lind, 32, hit .277 with an .820 OPS last season with 32 doubles, 20 homers and 87 RBI in 149 games for the Brewers in 2015. He’s a career .274 hitter with a .797 OPS.
He fits Dipoto’s criteria of a player who gets on base. He had a .360 on-base percentage last season and has a career on-base percentage of .332.
Dipoto’s two previous free-agent signings — outfielder Nori Aoki and catcher Chris Iannetta — have exhibited the ability to get on base as well.
“With Aoki and with Lind and with Chris Iannetta, the on-base value on our team has really improved this offseason,” he said. “That’s what this has all been about, restructuring the way the lineup works and how we feed that middle of the order. Obviously Adam will be closer to the middle than the top, but it’s a highly productive left-hand bat, and he fits any club.”
A year ago, the Mariners were 11th in the American League with a .311 on-base percentage. Dipoto believes it can go up to at least .320-.325.
“That will put you in the neighborhood of better than average, not dynamic,” he said. “We can do some things.”
Lind’s propensity for hitting right-handed pitching makes him a logical platoon candidate for first base. It’s not the first time he’s been asked to perform in that role. Last season, Lind hit .291 with an .883 OPS and 24 doubles, 20 homers and 77 RBI against right-handed pitching. For his career, he’s a .293 hitter with an .863 OPS vs. right-handed pitching.
It does make the right-handed hitting Jesus Montero, the only other first baseman on the 40-man roster, a candidate for that other platoon spot.
“Absolutely, right now Jesus slots very well with Adam Lind,” Dipoto said. “We know Jesus can hit. It’s going to be incumbent on him to come to spring training and show us he can be the other side of first base. Adam will play against all righties and in the right circumstances some lefties. But we want to see what Jesus can do. So he’ll come into spring training and compete.”
Asked if he would bring in another player to compete with Montero for that spot on the roster, Dipoto said, “That remains to be seen.” But multiple references to competition for that spot means it isn’t guaranteed for Montero despite his lack of minor-league options.
“He’s the top in-house candidate to fill that void,” Dipoto said of Montero. “Against the right lefties we could run Jesus out there, he could some DH days and we’ll find out if he grabs the reins and takes off. Spring training will be a telltale.”
Lind will make $8 million next season. To make room on the 40-man roster, first baseman Andy Wilkins, who was a waiver claim earlier in the offseason, was designated for assignment.
All three pitchers the Mariners gave up in the trade are 19 years old, and none pitched above Low-A Clinton.
Missaki made six starts with Clinton in 2015 before having season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery. In three minor-league seasons, he made 20 starts and four relief appearances, going 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA.
Peralta made nine starts and two relief appearances in the Arizona League in 2015, going 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA. He has pitched in parts of three seasons, posting a 6-12 record with a 3.58 ERA in 31 starts and five relief appearances.
Herrera completed his first full season of professional baseball in 2015, making 14 starts in the Dominican Summer League. He posted a 4-2 record with a 3.26 ERA. He struck out 73 and walked 13 in 80 innings.
With the addition of Lind, Dipoto admitted that he likely is done making major moves with position players.
Barring injuries, the Mariners’ position players for the 25-man roster are largely set. They will carry five outfielders — Nori Aoki, Leonys Martin, Nelson Cruz, Franklin Gutierrez and Seth Smith. The infield of Lind, Robinson Cano, Ketel Marte and Kyle Seager is set, and Iannetta and Steve Clevenger will handle the catching duties. The only real position battles going into spring training will be the backup first-base spot. Really, it’s Montero’s position to lose.
The backup utility infield spot will be decided between three players — Chris Taylor, Luis Sardinas and Shawn O’Malley.
- Dipoto said the team likely will add another free-agent reliever on a minor-league contract in the coming days to bolster the bullpen. The Mariners also will add a few relievers with MLB experience on non-roster minor league contracts with invites to spring training.
• With the 40-man roster full, Dipoto said it would be “highly unlikely” that the Mariners would clear a roster spot to draft a player in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. There is some thought they might lose slugger Jabari Blash, who hit 32 homers last season, in the draft.
- The trade with the Braves that sent reliever Jose Ramirez to Atlanta for a player to be named will be finalized Thursday after the Rule 5 draft. Dipoto said it will not be a player from the Braves’ 40-man roster.
Adam Lind bio
Position: First base.
Height, weight: 6-2, 195.
Born: July 17, 1983 in Anderson, Ind.
Notable: Lind had a .360 on-base percentage to go with a .460 slugging average (.820 OPS) last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, collecting 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 87 RBI in 149 games. … He played 138 games (including 134 starts) at first base. … His 66 walks were seven more than any Mariners player in 2015 (Nelson Cruz, 59), and his on-base percentage would have ranked second on the team behind Cruz (.369). … Since making his major-league debut in 2006 with Toronto, Lind is a career .274 hitter with 228 doubles, 12 triples, 166 home runs and 606 RBI in 1,102 games. His career on-base percentage is .332 to go with a .466 slugging mark (.797 career OPS).