Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto and his staff are in Boca Raton, Florida, this week for MLB's annual GM meetings. 'To me, the market is always moving,' he said.

Share story

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, special assistant Joe Bohringer and Tom Allison, who oversees the scouting department, are all in Boca Raton, Florida, for the annual general manager meetings. There may be a few other Seattle baseball operations staff members joining them.

The meetings run from Monday to Wednesday at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

Don’t be surprised if Dipoto is active at the GM meetings. He admitted the timetable in the offseason has pushed up in recent years.

“To me, the market is always moving,” he said. “The general manager meetings years ago used to be where everything got set up for the winter meetings. Now quite frankly, the GM meetings are where we culminate and bring to fruition a lot of the conversations we’ve been having since the season ended.

“Every time you set a new deadline, the game changes and shifts. It’s a fast-moving game. The season ended for a lot of teams in the first week of October therefore we’ve moved on and started planning for 2016. Now that the World Series has ended, we can start putting our clubs together.”

The Mariners are in need of a center fielder, another catcher and bullpen help while also trying to negotiate a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma and add overall depth to a weak 40-man roster.

 

Report: Manny Acta as third base coach

 

The Mariners would not confirm Olney’s report, but he’s rarely wrong. Acta is a former manager of the Nationals (2006-2009) and Indians (2010-2012) and has extensive experience coaching at third base with the Mets and before that the Expos.

Besides his extensive experience, Acta had been considered one of the more forward-thinking managers and coaches, embracing advanced analytics in their earlier stages and implementing them into his decisions.

He’s a native of San Pedro De Macoris in the Dominican Republic — the same hometown as Robinson Cano. Acta also managed the 2006 Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. Cano and Acta are friends, working in numerous camps in their hometown and other charitable endeavors, including Acta’s celebrity bowling tournament in years past.

With a large contingent of Latino players, including top players like Cano, Nelson Cruz (also a native of the Dominican Republic) and Felix Hernandez, having a Latin American coach on staff is essential for the Mariners or really any team in baseball.

The Mariners still have to hire a first base coach and bullpen coach, as well.

 

Minor league free agents

If you peruse the daily transaction pages for the respective leagues all over minor league baseball, you’ll notice a slew of Seattle players becoming minor league free agents. The deadline was actually on Friday, but most of the moves appeared today.

Some of these players are six-year free agents, meaning they’ve spent six seasons in the organization and have not been placed on the 40-man roster making them eligible. Other ways of free agency are outright release and limited minor league contracts. Some of the rules are outlined in Article XX of MLB’s basic agreement. Some of these players can and will re-sign with the Mariners as free agents.

Class AAA Tacoma

  • Ji-Man Choi            1B
  • Kyle Schepel            RHP
  • Leury Bonilla            3B
  • Lucas Luetge            LHP
  • Chien-Ming Wang            RHP

Luetge, a former Rule 5 pick that made it a full season, had been removed from the 40-man roster and slid down the depth chart with addition of several left-handed options ahead of him. He’s an average reliever without a put-away pitch to left-handed hitters.

Choi was on the 40-man before suffering a broken leg during spring training. The gruesome break cost him most of this season. He played in 18 games with the Rainiers at the end of the season. He’s currently playing winter ball with Estrellas in the Dominican Republic.

Class AA Jackson

  • Richard Vargas            RHP
  • Aderlin Rodriguez            3B
  • Jordy Lara            1B
  • James Gillheeney            LHP
  • Anthony Fernandez            LHP
  • Moises Hernandez            RHP
  • Oliver Garcia            RHP

Perhaps the biggest name in this group is first baseman/outfielder Jordy Lara. Two seasons ago, he was the Mariners’ minor league co-player of the year along with D.J. Peterson. So that honor hasn’t yielded much big league help.

After spending the second half of 2014 with Class AA Jackson, he returned to the Generals for all of 2015 and struggled, batting .242 (107-for-443) with a .685 OPS and 48 runs scored, 27 doubles, 6 triples, 7 home runs, 56 RBI and 37 walks while playing first base (22 G/22 GS), third base (76 G/75 GS), right field (10 G/10 GS) and designated hitter (15 G/15 GS). He did have 30 multi-hit games and hit .272 (28-for-103) with 10 runs scored, 13 doubles, a home run, 18 RBI and 3 walks over the final 28 games of the season. But at age 25, his prospect status was dwindling.

Anthony Fernandez was once a member of the 40-man roster, but Tommy John surgery forced the Mariners to remove him. Jimmy Gillheeny is a minor league depth lefty who’s pitched as high as Class AAA and received invites to MLB spring training.

Moises Hernandez is the brother of Felix Hernandez. Moises opted for free agency and planned to retire, but returned to Jackson for a fourth-straight season. At 31, he may finally retire after this season.

 

Class A Bakersfield

  • Ramon Morla            RHP
  • Carlton Tanabe            C

Morla is an interesting story. He was once a decent third-base prospect. But his struggles at the plate and his big throwing arm prompted the Mariners to convert him to a reliever during the 2014 season.

He had some success early in the conversion, showing a heavy fastball that touched 96 mph. But his progress was interrupted when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John Surgery. He returned in 2015 and pitched five scoreless inning with Bakerfield after six outings in the Arizona League.

 

Class A Clinton

  • Arby Fields   OF
  • Burt Reynolds   OF
  • Pat Leyland    1B

Besides sharing his name with the actor who played the Bandit and Paul Crewe in “The Longest Yard,” Reynolds is also a cousin of Robinson Cano, which led to his signing and an invitation to big league camp. He played two seasons at the lower level with some production. I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signs with the organization since he did the same thing last season.

 

Rookie League Everett

  • Joselito Cano LHP

The younger half-brother of Robinson Cano, the organization signed him to a minor league deal during the 2014 season after he was released by the Rays. He was a free agent last season and re-signed with the Mariners organization. It will likely happen again.

 

Dominican Summer League

  • Luis Jimenez            RHP

 

Radio-palooza

Dipoto discussed the trade and other things with Mitch Levy on Friday.

Dipoto mentions that the roster will still change and that outfield needs to be addressed, and that he hopes to bring back Franklin Gutierrez. Also, as of now, Mark Trumbo would be Seattle’s first-base option.

 

I discussed the trade and other things with Jason Puckett on Friday.