In Jerry Dipoto's third season at the helm, his Mariners are 24 games above .500. On Friday, they rewarded him with a multi-year contract extension.
In the midst of their most successful season in a decade, the Mariners decided to keep the man responsible for putting this current roster together in charge of the team for a few more years.
With the team sitting 24 games above .500 at 56-32 and trending toward its first postseason appearance since 2001, the Mariners announced on Friday afternoon that general manager Jerry Dipoto had been signed to a “multi-year” contract extension.
“As I excited as I am about this team doing so well, today is about the long-term future of the franchise,” said Mariners chairman John Stanton. “I’m delighted on behalf of the ownership and the entire organization of the Seattle Mariners to announce that Jerry Dipoto has signed a multi-year extension to his contract as general manager. We believe this is a very important, momentous day for the franchise. We appreciate all he’s done in terms of putting together a management team that has made an enormous difference in our success. As much as he is described as a manager, I think of Jerry as more of a leader.”
Dipoto had been in the final year of the three-year contract he was given when he was hired to replace Jack Zduriencik in September of 2015.
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“My time here — the 2 1/2 years — has, I think, gone just as well as I hoped it could go, provided we finish strong,” Dipoto said and then proceeded to thank numerous people in the organization. “It takes a village to build a baseball organization, and we’ve got a pretty good village. This is a new day to move forward. The Mariners are playing very well. I’m thrilled for this group, but I’m more thrilled that this group has an opportunity to continue to do what they’re doing.”
Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Jerry arrived here two and a half years ago with a specific plan for our franchise,” Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather said in a statement. “He has successfully executed that plan, resulting in a younger, more athletic and, most importantly, far more successful Major League team.
“At the same time, he has upgraded nearly every aspect of our overall baseball operation, improving systems, staff and communication in our Major League operations, our Player Development system, our Pro and Amateur scouting departments and our revamped High Performance Area.”
But for all of those compliments, Mather decided to wait to extend Dipoto’s contract until three months into the season instead of doing it during spring training.
“I look at it as the normal course of business,” Mather said. “We are two and a half years into a three-year deal. It’s not like I don’t talk to Jerry on a daily basis. It’s not like we don’t know where each other is at and what we are doing. It’s getting close to the All-Star break and it was time to get the extension done and move forward as an organization so everybody can relax and do their jobs. I was happy to do it. And it was always kind of a done deal in my head.”
Did Dipoto feel any anxiety about being in a lame duck status?
“I did a couple of trades to exorcise that demon,” he joked. “No, it’s part of baseball. It’s the way it goes. I’ve worked in the final year of contracts before. It’s something we all deal with. One of the benefits I’ve had in the last 29 or 30 years in baseball is that we work in business that allows us some certainty that normal everyday people don’t get and I don’t want to take that for granted. There’s a lot of people out there that wish they had the contract certainty that I do in a year when my contract was up. I tried not to focus too much on what I don’t have and what I do.”
Dipoto was the ninth general manager in Mariners team history. He was tasked with fixing an aging and un-athletic roster while trying to put a product on the field that could still be competitive. Ownership would not let him do a complete rebuild. Also given the fact that he had massive contract commitments to Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and even Hisashi Iwakuma at the time, the Mariners weren’t in a position to tear things down. He also inherited a payroll budget that was limited and a farm system that had grown stale.
With the philosophy of becoming more athletic, better at run prevention and finding hitters and pitchers who “controlled the strike zone,” Dipoto made a plethora of trades and roster moves to reshape and revamp his 40-man roster. He traded away young prospects in search of controllable players who could contribute to the major league roster. Now after two-plus years of furious wheeling and dealing, the Mariners’ roster has been crafted in Dipoto’s mold. So far this season, it has paid off. Seattle is 56-32, half a game out of first in the American League West Division and in line for a playoff spot.
The key contributors have largely been Dipoto acquisitions. Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger, acquired together in a trade with the Diamondbacks, have been offensive catalysts. Dee Gordon, thought to be a project in center field, has stepped in for the suspended Cano at second base.
What was expected to be a patchwork starting rotation has turned into a reliable group, thanks to breakout seasons from Marco Gonzales and the recently extended Wade LeBlanc, both acquired by Dipoto in the last year.
“As I said when I arrived here, I believe this organization has every opportunity to be successful on a consistent basis,” Dipoto said in a statement. “The combination of a supportive ownership group, great ballpark, passionate fan base and beautiful city gives us all the tools we need to consistently compete for division titles, and division titles give us the opportunity to attain our primary goal: Winning the World Series here in Seattle.”