The Mariners continue to make moves as the MLB Winter Meetings continue in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow live updates and get the latest Seattle news from M's reporter Ryan Divish.
Updated 6:05 p.m.
Some quick notes from the Jerry Dipoto media session.
*** The team is likely done adding making moves to the position player portion of the active roster. Basically they have it set in place barring injury.
- Outfield – Nelson Cruz, Nori Aoki, Leonys Martin, Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez
- 1B – Adam Lind
- 2B – Robinson Cano
- SS – Ketel Marte
- 3B – Kyle Seager
- Catcher – Chris Iannetta, Steve Clevenger
Those players are locked in. Dipoto said that Chris Taylor, Shawn O’Malley and Luis Sardinas will compete for the utility spot. And Jesus Montero and perhaps some non-roster invitees will compete for the other bench spot.
Asked if he will bring in a right-handed hitting first base type to compete with Montero, Dipoto said, “That remains to be seen.”
But he did say Montero, while being the top in house candidate, will still have to compete for the job.
*** Dipoto said the team will likely add another free agent reliever on a minor league contract in the coming days to bolster the bullpen. The team will also 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 team would clear a roster spot in order to draft a player in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. There is some thought Seattle 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 in exchange for a player to be named later will be finalized on Thursday after the Rule 5 draft. Dipoto said it will not be a player from their 40-man roster.
Updated 5:50 p.m.
Here’s the transcript from Scott Servais’ meeting with the media.
Q. You’ve had a lot of turnover here in short order. What’s the biggest challenge with that many new faces and a new face of your own?
SCOTT SERVAIS: Well, they’re all new to me, that’s the first thing. Obviously, there’s been a ton of turnover in our roster. Change was coming. Obviously, new general manager, new field manager.
We talked about it early on, wanted to get a different look to our team. That’s what we focused on. Obviously, Jerry has done an awesome job trying to go out and acquire players that fit the mold he’s looking for.
On the tough side, we’ve given up some very good players, guys that are going to go on and have very successful careers, and it may come back and hurt us at times. To get good players, you’ve got to give up good players. We’ve been aggressive. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to make trades. But we’re getting after it, and I don’t think Jerry is going to slow down any time soon.
Q. Is your lineup starting to come into place?
SCOTT SERVAIS: For me, yes.
Q. A bit more on what it might look like?
SCOTT SERVAIS: We’ve talked a lot upstairs, and I’ve got ideas. We’ve shared things. I had the coaching staff together in Seattle last week. We have different bodies than we had last week, as crazy as that sounds.
Looking at different options, if you look at the makeup of our lineup, we have guys who get on base. For the most part, that’s something we said we wanted to address, controlling the strike zone, being a tougher out, and trying to create more opportunities to score runs, and we’ve gone out and gotten a few of those guys.
Hopefully, there’s a few more guys on base when Nelson and Robbie come up to bat and create more scoring opportunities.
Q. Scott, you mentioned the new guys. But how much contact have you had with the guys that are coming back, especially that core group of guys, Felix and Cano and Seager?
SCOTT SERVAIS: Quite a bit of contact. I’ve talked to 10 to 12 players face to face, many more on the phone, trying to get a feel — let them get a feel for me, first of all, and kind of what I’m like. More importantly, listening to them and where they’re at. Everybody is at a different point in their career, and I feel it’s important where I’m at to listen to them.
That includes Mike Zunino, as well, who we consider a high end prospect who’s going to have a very successful major league career. I’ve spent a lot of time. I’ve been in Dominican talking to Nelly, I’ve talked to Robbie, Ketel Marte down there. I met with Felix and Walker. I talked to a lot of guys. I learned a lot about where they’re at, and I think they’ve learned a lot on where they’re going to go.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Marte and what you see, or what you know?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I’m really excited about him. I think he fits exactly what we’re looking for as far as a guy to create havoc on the bases offensively. We want to be aggressive. I think he brings some attitude or some swag to his game, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. He’s very confident.
Fortunately for me, I’ve got veteran players around him and veteran leaders that can help control that at times, but I’m excited about it, and I think he’s going to be a key piece to our club. Getting in the middle of the field every day, I would like to say we know exactly what we’re going to get. We don’t. It’s young players. But I do believe he’s ready to contribute every day, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it works out.
Q. Would you like to see him do well enough to have him up at the top of the order?
SCOTT SERVAIS: No doubt. I think that’s where he eventually settles in. I think he’ll let us know when he’s ready to do that every day. It may start out opening day, and it may be later in the season. We’ll see how the lineup kind of comes together as we get through Spring Training.
Q. Scott, what’s your view on platoons? I know you have one with Gutierrez and Seth Smith. Is Adam Lind a candidate for a platoon, obviously, or some type of lefty?
SCOTT SERVAIS: Obviously, Adam Lind is dominant against right-handed pitching. We knew that when we acquired him. In a perfect world, you’re giving him a day off here or there against a tough lefty.
But you want to put players in positions to succeed. That’s my job. That’s the coaching staff’s job. If that means you’re going to use your entire roster, I would think somewhere else on our roster there would be a right-handed hitting first baseman to match up with him.
If not, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to play. Adam Lind is a good player, and that’s why we acquired him, and we gave up good players to get him.
Q. How much have you and Jerry talked about third time through the order effectiveness and how you might approach that?
SCOTT SERVAIS: With our pitching staff?
SCOTT SERVAIS: It is something to look at. I think all managers are looking at it, especially with the model the Kansas City Royals have thrown out there with their bullpen. I think it’s great if the guy you’re going to get is better than the guy who’s out there. You kind of have to look at your pitching staff and your roster and where you’re at. It’s definitely something we’ve talked about.
Q. Scott, it seems like the way managers are hired these days, it’s different from in the past. It used to be you spend a lot of time in the minors as a manager or maybe several years as a bench coach. We’ve seen more managers without previous experience get hired. As somebody who has spent time in the front office as well, why do you think this has changed?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I spent plenty of time in the minors. I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s where I’ve been the last ten years. I have not managed in the minor leagues. I have not been a bench coach in the big leagues. And I’m not the first. Lucky for me, there’s been many guys, and I could go through the list, talking to them earlier today. Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus, guys with different paths.
Mine may be more what A.J. Hinch has gone through, just coming from the front office. I think there’s tremendous value in understanding of how to put teams together and how front offices look at that. I will use that to my benefit.
The one thing I’ve not done is I have not managed a major league team, but I’ve managed people. I think, when you look at the game and how the game’s evolved, it is about managing people and creating an environment that they feel good about coming to work every day and a certain culture along with that. That’s what I think I can bring to the Mariners.
Again, it’s about the players and putting them in a position to win. So, again, it’s been a different path, I’ve said it all along, that I’ve taken to get here. I feel fortunate, and I’m really excited about getting started.
Q. You know that relationship between the general manager and manager has always been important. Is it a bigger key even now that there’s a synergy between them maybe now because of the advent of advanced metrics?
SCOTT SERVAIS: It’s important, no doubt. It’s been important as long as baseball has been going on, that relationship, because there’s going to be some rough times. There’s going to be losing streaks, disagreements, things like that. I think having a relationship, knowing how the other person really ticks and having worked with that person for a long time, it certainly helps.
My relationship with Jerry, I understand how he thinks, and I know he understands how I think. So it speeds up the learning curve a little bit when you’re looking at roster and how players are going to be put into play. The analytical part of it and what goes on in the front office, it’s important everybody is on the same page. There’s no doubt. The way the game has gone on, they’re looking for a competitive advantage, the greatest players in the world. You’re managing against the most competitive people in the world. You have to use all the resources to try to win today’s game.
Q. Jerry said that the bullpen is still a work in progress. When you look at what you have right now, do you have a closer?
SCOTT SERVAIS: We’ve got guys that can close. That’s how I look at it. Quite frankly, I have been away from my room for about four hours, so I’m not sure what’s happened in the last four hours as far as speaking to specific names and roles.
I think roles will be defined by the time we open up on opening day. I think players need to know kind of where they’re at. They also have to know that that role can change based on their performance and where the team’s at and how the matchups line up.
The one thing that I’m looking forward to doing is communicating with our players, being transparent on where we’re headed and why we’re headed there. I do believe, if you are honest and open with players, they’ll adjust.
But as far as the roles are in, right now, is it clearly defined? No, it’s not. Do I feel good that we have a closer? We’ll have somebody to take the ball at the end, whether it’s Joaquin Benoit, or somebody else.
Q. Who else could it be?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I’m not going there. Good try, though.
Q. You mentioned being transparent. What’s your message to Zunino know when you approach him?
SCOTT SERVAIS: My biggest thing with Mike is I was a young catcher that really struggled to get in the big leagues. I’ve been in those shoes. I wasn’t a first round pick, but I was a high pick. Understanding what goes into catching and being a winning catcher, obviously, the defense and calling the game and things you would take a lot of pride in doing in helping your team win. But ultimately, what’s on the back of your baseball card is your batting statistics, and that plays into the game.
I know how hard it is to deal with failure. I think in my conversation with Mike, it was just to try to get a feel for where he’s at at this point in his career. I’m sure a lot of people want to try to help Mike, give him ideas on his hitting or approach to hitting or where he needs to go.
Ultimately, it is his career, and he has to make the decision who he wants to listen to, why he wants to listen to them, and then go forward from there. So you need to narrow that focus a little bit. That was kind of the message I gave to him. Who is in your circle? Who is your guy that you’re going to trust? Hopefully, over time we build a relationship, and it’s people in Mariners uniforms that are on our staff that he can trust and work with and feel good about.
Mike Zunino is going to be a very good major league player. There’s no doubt in my mind, Jerry’s mind, or anyone else. It’s just when. He will let us know.
Q. Scott, you’ve been with Jerry for a good while now. You know how he operates. Does he appear even more driven by the circumstances where he left Los Angeles? Does it seem like he’s really out to prove something?
SCOTT SERVAIS: No, not any more than normal. Jerry has always been driven. He’s a workaholic. He loves his job. Putting teams together and putting people together and creating a culture for everyone can learn. So not any more driven than I’ve ever seen him.
Q. Going back to Zunino a little bit, he had done some stuff at the end of the season based on stuff Edgar wanted him to do. Did he feel he was making progress on those changes?
SCOTT SERVAIS: Yeah, and I’ve talked to Edgar a lot too about where he’s at. I think, as far as organizationally, the hitting program, the pitching program, what we’re doing at the big league level and transferring down to the minor league level is going to be huge to get all those things in place. That’s what the good organizations have. They have that synergy. That’s what the St. Louis Cardinals have. That’s what the Kansas City Royals have. I was a part of that when I was at Texas for a while.
I think getting on the Zunino thing, making sure he understands exactly what the expectations are and the changes he needs to make, but ultimately, Mike has to believe it, and it’s Mike’s career. We’re here to help him, and we’ll do everything we can, give him all the tools to be successful, and he’s going to be.
Q. Scott, a veteran manager once told me that it’s often easier for him to manage against other veteran managers, even the great ones, because he knows their tendencies.
SCOTT SERVAIS: Nobody knows mine.
Q. Right. But flipping that around, how important will it be to you at all to understand other managers’ tendencies going into series?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I think it’s important, knowing kind of how other teams — how the other manager is wired. You don’t know everything they’re going to do. You have a feel. You have an advanced scouting report, stuff like that.
Fortunately for me, I’m very well versed in the American League West. I’ve spent a lot of time there the last ten years. Know the clubs, know the personnel on the field. It can be important. I’m not going to downplay it, but I kind of look at it as I’m the guy they don’t know. That’s my advantage right now.
Q. Scott, you acquired Aoki recently. Any chances of Kenta Maeda also joining?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I’ll let Jerry answer that one. I’m really excited to have Aoki. I think he’s going to be a great fit in our club. He’s a guy gets on base, can play a lot of different positions in the outfield. Great fit for our team. I’ll let Jerry talk about the other stuff.
Q. Scott, I’m from Baltimore. So I got to see Nelson Cruz for a year there under Buck Showalter. Do you see him as predominantly an everyday outfielder, or do you think he should DH a good portion of the time?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I think it’s a combination. I do know that Nelson’s numbers were much better when he played in the field, his offensive numbers from last year. He wants to play in the field. I also want him to play every day. Knowing that the travel in Seattle is rough, there may have to be a few more DH days, and we’ll have to see how that plays out.
Nelson is a big part of our time. I have a relationship with him from our days in Texas. I talk to him a lot. I’m looking forward to him helping me lead and take care of some things in the clubhouse.
Q. With the types of things you guys have been doing, it looks like a team that wants to win now. Is that an added pressure on you as a first time manager?
SCOTT SERVAIS: I think those guys that I had lunch with today, those other 29 managers, we all have pressure to win. So these jobs, like somebody told me right after I got a chance to manage, was there’s only one thing guaranteed, and that’s your compensation. The opportunity and the chance to lead an organization is never really guaranteed. It’s always tied to winning and the progress moving forward.
Seattle has not won in a long time. And the expectations there, they’re high, from ownership and team president and the fans. They should be. It’s time. It’s time to win. Jerry knows that we’re going to have to do something a little bit different with our roster and how we play to get a different result. That’s why he’s doing it.
Q. So Chris Iannetta is a guy you’re familiar with. What makes you believe he can have kind of a bounce back year after a tough year?
SCOTT SERVAIS: Chris does some things that I really appreciate in the fact that what he does — calling the game, working with the pitching staff, really, really important. He did not have a typical Chris Zion season last year. He had a rough start to the season is what happened, and he got buried early. It happens to players. It certainly happened to me in my career.
I think you look at a major league career, not a lot of guys play ten years in the big leagues. Chris has played a long time. You’re going to have two or three bad years and two or three good years. Kind of what happens in the middle is who you are. Chris had a rough year. That’s why we were able to get him at the price point we’re at. We have an opportunity.
I talk to Chris a lot. I talked to him yesterday. I look at Chris. Leonys Martín, similar type player. We’re hoping for a bounce back year. That’s how you’re able to get those guys.
Q. Steve Clevenger, you know a little bit about him. Your thoughts and Jerry’s thoughts. You gave up a good package for him.
SCOTT SERVAIS: I have some thoughts on Steve. I have not seen him a lot. I do know it’s probably more offense than defense. We like the left-handed bat and how that fits the matchup with Chris going forward there. Get a chance to know him better in Spring Training, but our scouts liked him, liked the bat.
Obviously, I’m a catching guy. I have a background there. He’s got some things to tighten up defensively, but he should be a good fit for our bullpen.
Q. More like an ex-catcher, Montero, I know time is ticking on his opportunities. Do you think he can bounce back?
SCOTT SERVAIS: He will not catch. He’ll be first base, bat. There’s a spot for him on our club. He needs to perform well during Spring Training and going forward into the season. We’d really like him to be able to mash those left-handed pitchers. That would be great. I think he knows what’s ahead of him.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk much with Cano? How’s he doing health-wise?
SCOTT SERVAIS: Health-wise, Robbie is great. He’s working out off-season. Talked to him a number of times. Manny Acta, the third base coach, has a good relationship with Robbie. Manny is in the Dominican and will be touching base with him frequently.
Robbie is a good spot. He does know he got off to a slow start last year. He had a great second half, playing injured, but great player. Lucky to have him. Going to be a big part of our team going forward.
Updated 4:17 p.m.
Here’s video of Scott Servais talking with the media
Updated 3:17 p.m.
Here’s some linkage to chew on.
Jeff Sullivan, who has been avoiding me at the winter meetings, has this piece from Fangraphs on Adam Lind and Evan Scribner and their flaws and strengths.
Dave Schoenfeld of ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog looks at the Adam Lind trade and other moves and a revamped roster and philosophy.
And Joe Lemire of USA Today wrote about roster turnover using the Mariners as an example.
Updated 2:42 p.m.
Jerry Dipoto believes in on-base percentage. The Mariners were 11th in the AL last season with a .311 OBP. He expects that number to be better with the moves made.
“It is important,” he said. “I made no bones about that since the day I took job. What we are doing is trying to create a longer lineup to feed traffic to the middle of our lineup. With the exception of Leonys Martin, all those guys have the career norm that says they are above the league average for on-base percentage. If we can feed those guys then the tradition baseball numbers – RBIs and run scored – should start to grow.”
Here’s a look at the 2015 on-base percentage of some of the key players for 2016.
Updated 2:26 p.m.
This is from yesterday, but here’s video of Jerry Dipoto talking on MLB Network about the Wade Miley trade and other aspects.
Updated 2:16 p.m.
We just wrapped up the annual manager’s luncheon. The local beat writers here in Nashville – Greg Johns, Bob Dutton and I – had lunch with Scott Servais. Two Japanese writers were also there. It’s a way to have an off-the-record lunch with the manager to discuss some things. It was my first time meeting Servais since I was away during his hiring press conference.
I was impressed with his passion. He and Jerry Dipoto obviously have a great relationship and he has some fresh ideas about baseball, leadership, spring training and other things that will come out in the future.
Servais is going to on MLB Network at 2:45 p.m./12:45 p.m. and then MLB Network radio at 3 p.m./ 1 p.m. for those interested. He will then meet with the media at 3:15 p.m./1:15 p.m.
We will meet with Dipoto around 4:30 p.m. to discuss the days moves.
Updated 11:44 a.m.
Thanks to my editor Paul Barrett, here’s a list of all of general manager Jerry Dipoto’s roster moves since the offseason began.
- Dec. 9: Acquired first-base Adam Lind from the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed pitchers Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera and Freddy Peralta
- Dec. 8: Acquired right-handed pitcher Evan Scribner from the Oakland A’s for right-handed pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill
- Dec. 7: Acquired left-handed pitcher Wade Miley and right-handed pitcher Jonathan Aro from the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Carson Smith and left-handed pitcher Roenis Elias.
- Dec. 4: Traded right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named and cash considerations.
- Dec. 3: Signed free-agent outfielder Norichika Aoki to a one-year contract with a vesting mutual option for the 2017 season.
- Dec. 2: Signed free-agent reliever Justin De Fratus to a one-year contract.
- Dec. 2: Acquired catcher Steve Clevenger from the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo and left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser.
- Dec. 2: Claimed infielder Andy Wilkins from the Baltimore Orioles. To make room on the roster left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos was designated for assignment. Catcher John Hicks, who was designated for assignment Nov. 23, was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins.
- Nov. 23: Signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a one-year major-league contract and designated catcher John Hicks for assignment.
- Nov. 21: Traded outfielder Ramon Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Luis Sardinas.
- Nov. 16: Acquired outfielder Leonys Martin and right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass from the Texas Rangers for right-handed pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen, outfielder James Jones and infielder Patrick Kivlehan.
- Nov. 12: Acquired right-handed relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres for minor-league right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos and minor-league infielder Nelson Ward.
- Nov. 11: Signed outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year contract through the 2016 season.
- Nov. 6: Claimed outfielder Dan Robertson off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
- Nov. 5: Acquired right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser and minor-league outfielder Boog Powell for first baseman Logan Morrison, infielder/outfielder Brad Miller and right-handed pitcher Danny Farquhar.
- Oct. 19: Claimed RHP Cody Martin off waivers from Oakland
- Nov. 23: Named Casey Candaele first-base coach and Mike Hampton bullpen coach.
- Nov. 10: Named Manny Acta third-base coach.
- Oct. 26: Named Tim Bogar bench coach, Edgar Martinez hitting coach, Mel Stottlemyre Jr. pitching coach and Chris Woodward first-base coach.
- Oct. 23: Named Scott Servais manager.
- Oct. 9: Announced that Lloyd McClendon will not return as manager in 2016.
Update 11 a.m.
The trade is official. The Mariners have acquired first baseman Adam Lind from the Brewers in exchange for three minor league right-handed pitchers – Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki and Freddy Peralta.
“Adam lengthens our line-up as a first baseman who gives us on-base percentage and power,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “First base was a spot we came here looking to fill, and we feel that Adam is a good fit for us.”
Lind fits Dipoto’s criteria of a player that gets on base. He had a .360 on-base percentage last season and has a career on-base percentage of .332. He mashes right-handed pitching, hitting .291 with an .883 OPS and all 20 of his homers against right-handers last season.
It would make him a platoon candidate perhaps with first baseman/designated hitter Jesus Montero. But Dipoto and his new staff haven’t made any final decisions about Montero. They believe he can hit, but they want to see how he handles first base from a defensive standpoint. Montero is out of options for next season so he would be open to waivers claim.
But based on what we’ve seen from Dipoto, there is a chance that he finds a platoon candidate that has some positional flexibility via trade or free agency.
Lind will make $8 million next season. To make room on the roster for Lind, first baseman Andy Wilkins, who was a waiver claim earlier in the offseason, was designated for assignment.
All three pitchers the Mariners gave up are 19 years old and none of them pitched above Low-A Clinton.
Missaki made six starts with Clinton in 2015 before having season-ending Tommy John 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’s 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 batters in 80 innings pitched with 13 walks.
Updated 10:57 a.m.
The live post is up after some technical difficulties. Sorry for the delay.
The Mariners are on the verge of trading for Brewers first baseman Adam Lind. Sources have said the Mariners are giving up lower level prospects and no players on the 40-man roster. Also one-time top prospect D.J. Peterson and minor league pitcher of the year Edwin Diaz are not in the trade either.
Lind hit .277 with an .820 OPS last season with 32 doubles, 20 homers and 87 RBI in 149 games for the Brewers.