The Twitter mailbag returns to its origin — a Mariners off day — proving it doesn’t need days off, sleep or vegetables to maintain its existence or production levels.
Black coffee, biting sarcasm and a general distrust of the world is all the fuel it needs to thrive.
Also, it’s the middle of August and the Mariners are still interesting. Games have meaning beyond “getting better” and “gaining experience.” Yes, the wild-card hopes are slim. But the annual season obituary, which is usually in the draft stages by early June, written in earnest in July and finalized by the first of August, is nothing more than random thoughts.
Until then, let’s get to the questions from the real folks who are my Twitter followers.
Question: @SavageDipoto asked: The Seattle Mariners not extending GM Jerry Dipoto would be about the most Seattle Mariner of outcomes. So why hasn’t Dipoto been extended and why has John Stanton refused to comment on the matter?
Answer: Contrary to the name, this is not the real Twitter account belonging to the Mariners’ general manager. I’m quite certain Jerry Dipoto has what we call a “lurker” Twitter account, with which he can monitor tweets from players and local media, including certain writers who have annoyed him with snarky comments and sarcastic remarks throughout his tenure.
I know manager Scott Servais has a lurker account. After having his previous account figured out by the folks at ESPN 710, he got a new one and guaranteed no person would ever figure out his new handle.
There are times I wonder if one of the many Twitter accounts that like to lambaste me might be a Dipoto or Servais burner account, giving me the grief and criticism that I sometimes heap on the organization.
But back to Savage Dipoto — solid name, by the way — and his question.
The “why,” “when” and “what the hell is going on” in this situation is curious.
It’s been mentioned, but Dipoto and Servais are in the final year of their contract extensions they signed in July 2018. Dipoto received his extension first and extended Servais’ deal a few weeks later.
Now they are operating under lame-duck status.
Given the team’s unexpected success in 2021 and a farm system that ranks No. 1 in Major League Baseball per Baseball America’s recent midseason organizational rankings, it would seem they’ve earned the opportunity to see this rebuild through to its final stages.
But people within the organization — including players, coaches, scouts, baseball operations employees and those on the business side — are curious about the situation.
Nobody seems certain about what is happening, and rumors and speculation are rampant, including the idea that Dipoto received an extension that wasn’t made public, which has previously happened with the Mariners. It makes viable reporting difficult. And the organization that vowed future transparency in February after then-CEO Kevin Mather gaslit his career, has been anything but when it comes to their top-ranking baseball executive.
But based on sources, it’s clear that Mariners chairman John Stanton has had discussions with Dipoto about a contract extension and finishing off the rebuild.
A few of those sources seem to think the sticking point might be the length of the extension being offered to Dipoto and “by extension” Servais (pun intended) vs. the length of extensions they believe they deserve.
A MLB source outside the organization said Dipoto was offered an extension similar to what Jack Zduriencik received from Mather in August 2014, which was essentially a one-year extension with a team option for the following season and a buyout of the base salary if the option wasn’t exercised.
If you are Dipoto or Servais, you want another three-year extension and no less than a two-year deal with an option. Let’s not forget that neither ranks near the top of MLB for their respective positions in terms of annual salary, which isn’t new territory for the Mariners. They’ve developed a reputation for being notoriously cheap when it comes to paying salaries to employees throughout the organization, particularly midlevel employees. The whole idea being, “You get to work in baseball and for the Mariners; if you don’t like it, we’ll find someone else who will be happy to do it.”
Servais is believed to rank in the bottom third of annual salary despite being the first manager to receive a contract extension since Lou Piniella.
In that regard, there are only 30 GM spots and 30 manager spots in MLB. So if the Mariners want to remain steadfast, they could say, “We’ll find someone else happy to do the jobs.”
I’ve probably asked Stanton about the status of Dipoto’s employment at least 20 times since annoying him with that question March 10 at spring training, when he met with media members there to announce he would change the organization’s leadership structure in the aftermath of Mather’s resignation, following his colossally unaware and offensive comments to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club.
That day Stanton said Dipoto would be in charge of all baseball decisions and report directly to him while the incoming president of business operations would handle that aspect of the organization. It seemed fair to ask if he would extend Dipoto or give him a title bump with the new leadership structure because the hiring of a president of business operations would have no effect on him.
“I will continue to talk with Jerry,” Stanton said. “And I will probably talk to Jerry about his role and position before I talk with you about it.”
But since then Stanton has politely shrugged off the question, even leading up to the MLB trade deadline, when it was obvious to wonder how Dipoto’s employment status might affect his decision-making.
And now as the Mariners desperately try to stay in a postseason race that few people expected them to be in when the season started, there is no clarity.
As columnist Larry Stone griped about a few weeks back in the press box at T-Mobile Park:
What can they possibly be waiting on to make this decision?
How can they not know whether they want to move forward with them or move on?
Perhaps we’ll have some finality when the Mariners return off the next road trip. But at this point, they could wait until the end of the season to decide, or maybe they have decided and are waiting for the right time to announce it.
If they’ve waited this long without making a decision, what’s another month or two?