“We will be active.”
It’s a reminder that Jerry Dipoto didn’t necessarily need to repeat for those that follow the Mariners or Major League Baseball, particularly when it comes to transactional activity in the offseason and during the season.
The man of a million moves has never been afraid to add or subtract pieces from the roster or organization in the search for production or success.
But coming off the most successful season during his tenure, which included the first postseason appearance since 2001, any sort of activity this offseason comes with the expectation of helping the 2023 team to improve on last season’s accomplishments.
Will Dipoto and the Mariners make their moves through free agency or trade, or both? Keep up with the latest offseason news and rumors across the league here.
Mariners finalizing trade for Brewers’ second baseman Kolten Wong
The Seattle Mariners solved their need for a second baseman while also addressing a glaring issue from last season.
MLB sources confirmed that the Mariners have reached an agreement on a trade to send outfielder Jesse Winker and infielder Abraham Toro to the Brewers to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for second baseman Kolton Wong.
The deal is agreed upon but is pending player physicals, sources said. Most notably, Winker is coming off two offseason surgeries (left knee and neck).
Former Mariner Carlos Santana reportedly agrees to join Pirates
Acquired from the Royals in late June to fill a need at first base and designated hitter due to injuries, Carlos Santana brought a level of professionalism, leadership and power to the Mariners in 2022.
He ended up playing a significant role on a team that made the postseason, ending a 21-year drought
Now, the veteran slugger will take those same attributes to one of the youngest teams in the league for 2023.
On Friday afternoon, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Santana has reached an agreement with Pittsburgh on a one-year, $6.7 million contract.
Why the Mariners’ trade for Teoscar Hernandez is a short-term home run
The late Roland Hemond, a legendary and longtime general manager, used to say the trades that worried him the most were the ones in which he was lavished with immediate praise for having made a one-sided deal.
Under the Hemond proviso, the Mariners should be quite worried right now, because their trade on Wednesday with the Toronto Blue Jays for Teoscar Hernandez seems heavily weighted in their favor. That seemed to be the instant feedback on social media and beyond.
The Mariners gave up reliever Erik Swanson and minor-league pitcher Adam Macko to get Hernandez, the sort of highly productive power bat for which they have been clamoring. In present-day value, this trade is a home run for the Mariners (who no doubt remember the two home runs Hernandez hit against them in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series in October).
Swanson was outstanding as a high-leverage reliever in 2022, but by the postseason, manager Scott Servais appeared to have lost trust in him. Swanson didn’t appear in the Wild Card Series with Toronto, including Seattle’s clinching 10-9 victory in which the Blue Jays bullpen imploded in blowing an 8-1 lead. The Mariners used eight pitchers in that game before Swanson, including starter George Kirby to close it out.
Mariners acquire former All-Star outfielder Teoscar Hernandez
The Mariners started addressing their glaring need for impact hitters with the first of what is expected to be multiple moves this offseason.
The team announced Wednesday that it had acquired former All-Star outfielder Teoscar Hernandez from the Blue Jays for reliever Erik Swanson and left-handed pitching prospect Adam Macko.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported the trade.
“We began our offseason with the intent to add impact and length to our lineup,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said in a team statement. “In adding Teoscar to an already solid foundation, we feel we’ve become a far more dangerous offensive club.”
Hernandez, who turned 30 on Oct. 15, was an All-Star in 2021 and will be entering his final year of club control, meaning he will be a free agent after the 2023 season. Per MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration logarithm, Hernandez is projected to make around $14.1 million in his final year of arbitration.
In 131 games in 2022 he posted a .267/.316/.491 slash line with 35 doubles, a triple, 25 homers, 71 run scored, 77 RBI, 34 walks and 156 strikeouts in 535 plate appearances.
More from Jerry Dipoto: 'The bulk of what our 2023 team will look like is already here'
"We'll be active," Jerry Dipoto said recently. "We know there are a couple of holes to fill on the team."
Those holes for the Mariners include a middle infielder and at least one if not two corner outfielders depending on if they are able to re-sign Mitch Haniger.
The Mariners will likely add at least one reliever to bolster an already strong bullpen.
"Regardless of what we do, the bulk of what our 2023 team will look like is already here," Dipoto said. "And that's the most exciting part of this is we've done throughout this process over these last 3-4 year especially is building something that has sustained value. Our team is young or fun. And we do have more coming talent through our system. We think that there are impact players on the way and I love the makeup of this team. There's no reason to turn over to much soil here. We have a really good young foundation to build and we'll continue to find ways to get better."
Mariners analysis: Looking at the middle infield market and where J.P. Crawford fits
LAS VEGAS — Is it a continuation bluff based on positioning where the Mariners pull the jackpot at the end in a play few saw coming?
Or is Jerry Dipoto simply checking to the expected bettors and raisers like the Yankees and Dodgers, seeing the free-agent board and understanding he’s holding a foldable hand based on the percentages of the expected outcome.
Or will his known early position put him on tilt and chasing in the end?
Excuse the gambling references, but a few days in Vegas will leave you talking like a character in “Casino.”
But after being resolute in the Mariners postseason news conference, saying J.P. Crawford would be the Mariners starting shortstop in 2023 despite a free-agent class that features four impact shortstops, who all represent upgrades at the position, Dipoto doubled down (OK, just one more reference) on his position during Tuesday’s media availability at the MLB GM meetings.
Standing in the rooftop foyer of the new Resorts World Casino, with top executives — mostly general managers — from the other 14 American League clubs talking to assembled media, the Mariners president of baseball operations reiterated the expectation of Crawford being the starting shortstop in 2023. And the Mariners would ask any potential shortstop signees to move to second base, where the team has a glaring need.
Mariners not expected to extend qualifying offer to Mitch Haniger
LAS VEGAS — The Mariners have opted against the possibility of paying Mitch Haniger a salary of $19.65 million for only next season. But they haven’t ruled out the possibility of paying the veteran outfielder a lower salary over multiple seasons.
During Tuesday’s media session at the MLB general managers meetings, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto confirmed that the organization is not expected to extend a qualifying offer to Haniger before Thursday’s deadline.
“I don’t think we are,” Dipoto said. “We’ve been in touch with Mitch and our hope is to work something out to have him come back. As we expected, obviously he’s now a free agent, and we knew that was going to be part of this before he ever reached free agency. We will continue to be in contact throughout. Our goal is to bring him back. It remains to be seen whether that’s a reality.”
Even though he missed a large portion of the 2022 season due to a high-ankle sprain, Haniger’s close connection with teammates and the success made the idea of playing elsewhere difficult to imagine.
Five Mariners hit free agency. Who could Seattle bring back?
LAS VEGAS — The goodbyes were said weeks ago, some filled with tears in the hours after a heartbreaking 1-0, 18-inning loss to the Astros ending their season, with the understanding for at least a few of them they wouldn’t be back with the Mariners.
The actual transactions went through the Major League Baseball system on Sunday without fanfare or farewells — the nature of the business of baseball.
Five players from the Mariners’ roster — Mitch Haniger, Adam Frazier, Curt Casali, Carlos Santana and Matthew Boyd — became free agents a day after the Astros defeated the Phillies in Game 6 to win the 2022 World Series.
Could any of those five players return to the Mariners in 2023? Maybe one at the most.
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