The Mariners confirmed Dipoto's hiring Monday afternoon and will introduce him at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field. He will become the team's ninth full-time general manager, replacing Jack Zduriencik, who was fired in August.
As the final days of the 2015 season dwindle with them once again making postseason plans that don’t include actual participation in the postseason, the Mariners made a move they hope will stop their 14-year streak without a playoff appearance — the longest in baseball.
On Monday the Mariners announced the hiring of Jerry Dipoto as their general manager. He is the team’s ninth full-time GM.
“I’m honored to be joining the Mariners family,” Dipoto said in a team statement. “As the 2015 season draws to a close, we have a great fan base, ballpark and organization, providing a great opportunity for success. I truly look forward to both the challenges and rewards to come as we chart a fresh course for the future of Mariners baseball.”
An introductory news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field.
“Jerry impressed us at each step of the process,” Mariners president Kevin Mather said in the statement. “He has a very unique skill set, having been a successful player in the majors, then moving into front offices with steadily increasing responsibilities. Jerry has scouted, spent time in player development and has a track record as a very successful general manager.”
This wasn’t the first time Dipoto interviewed for the position. He was a finalist for the GM opening before the 2009 season. He was the runner-up to the man he’s now replacing — Jack Zduriencik.
Mather, who wasn’t a part of the GM search in 2009, fired Zduriencik on Aug. 28, saying: “I just felt we needed a leader who can lead us long term and get the most out of this organization. Because I think we have a core base of talent that should be successful for a long time.”
Dipoto, 47, seemed like a logical candidate again. He fit all of the qualities Mather outlined early in the search process, particularly experience as a GM, scouting and player development and with an understanding and appreciation for analytics.
“During our conversations over the past few weeks, it became clear to me that he has a very solid understanding of our team and organization, both where we are and where we want to be,” Mather said. “And he has a strategy to get us there. Few candidates bring the combination of playing the game, scouting, a solid understanding of statistical metrics and a plan for player development. I am looking forward to having Jerry lead our baseball operations for a long time.”
Dipoto was hired as the Angels’ general manager in 2011. But a rift between manager Mike Scioscia loomed the past two seasons. When owner Arte Moreno appeared to take Scioscia’s side in the latest disagreement over the implementation of analytics, Dipoto submitted his resignation.
He takes over a team that has underachieved. After winning 87 games in 2014 and missing the postseason by one game, the Mariners were expected to contend this season with the addition of Nelson Cruz and a handful of other role players. But poor offensive numbers early in the season and bullpen issues torpedoed those hopes and led to Zduriencik’s dismissal.
There is a core group of established talent for a postseason push for the next few seasons led by veterans Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Cruz and Kyle Seager. Young pitchers Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Roenis Elias give the Mariners controllable pitching, and shortstop prospect Ketel Marte has shown promise. Dipoto will have to add some pieces to the big-league club for immediate success.
The bigger task likely will be revamping and re-energizing a lagging minor-league system while also making some changes to the scouting department.
Will Dipoto decide to keep manager Lloyd McClendon, who is under contract for next season?
That’s certainly a question that will be asked Tuesday. It’s fair to assume Dipoto’s problems with Scioscia might influence the decision.
McClendon and Dipoto met for about two hours Monday morning to discuss the big-league team and the organization.
“It was great,” McClendon said. “He’s a very energetic, dynamic, intelligent, forward-thinking guy. I thought we hit it off pretty good. We had very honest discussions about a lot of things. I think it went very well.”
McClendon didn’t share if his future was discussed.
“Well, I’m under contract to manage next year, and hopefully I will manage that club,” he said. “Beyond that, if you are looking for security in this game, you are in the wrong business. That’s for me and every other manager.”
Dipoto has an interesting and diverse resume, starting with his playing days. A native of Toms River, N.J., he pitched for Virginia Commonwealth University, leading the Rams to their first appearance int he NCAA Tournament in 1988. Dipoto was a third-round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians in 1989. He made his major-league debut in 1993. He appeared in 390 games over eight seasons as a reliever, posting a 27-24 record with 49 saves. His best season came in 1998 when he saved 19 games for the Rockies, posting a 3.53 ERA. His playing days ended in spring training of 2001 because disk issues in his neck.
The Rockies gave him a job as a special assistant to the general manager that season. Dipoto moved to the scouting department of the Red Sox for the 2003-04 seasons. He returned to the Rockies in 2005 to serve as the teams director of player personnel. In 2006, he was hired by longtime friend and new Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes as the organization’s vice president of player personnel, overseeing the scouting and evaluation of players at every level of the organization.
Dipoto served in that role until July 1, 2010, when Byrnes was fired with the Diamondbacks holding a 31-38 record. The team named Dipoto the interim general manager. He made a small series of trades trying to revamp a struggling rotation.
The two biggest moves were trading Dan Haren to the Angels for pitchers Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez and Tyler Skaggs. Saunders helped Arizona win the NL West in 2011, and Corbin was an All-Star in 2013, going 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA in the first half of the season. He missed last season because of Tommy John elbow surgery. The other move was to send veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson to the White Sox for right-hander Daniel Hudson, a touted prospect at the time. Hudson went 16-12 in 2011 and was a big key to Arizona’s NL West title. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012.
When the Diamondbacks brought on Kevin Towers as the general manager before the 2011 season, Dipoto decided to look elsewhere despite offers to stay. He was hired by the Angels to replace general manager Tony Reagins.
During that offseason, Dipoto helped engineer the free-agent signing of left-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson and at the urging of owner Arte Moreno the signing of Albert Pujols. The Angels finished 89-73 that season, which was good enough for only third place in the AL West. In the 2012 season at the urging/ordering of Moreno, Dipoto signed Josh Hamilton to a regrettable five-year, $125 million contract.
Dipoto did make some positive moves at the trade deadline last season for a team that won 98 games, acquiring relievers Jason Grilli and Huston Street to address an abysmal bullpen.
Some other notable moves:
- Nov. 30, 2011 – Acquired Chris Iannetta from Colorado in exchange for RHP Tyler Chatwood
- Dec. 10, 2011 – Agreed to terms on a contract with Albert Pujols, Agreed to terms on a contract with C.J. Wilson
- Apr. 19, 2012 – Agreed to terms on a contract extension with Erick Aybar
- May 3, 2012 – Acquired Ernesto Frieri from San Diego in exchange for minor leaguers Alexi Amarista and Donn Roach
- July 27, 2012 – Acquired Zack Greinke from Milwaukee in exchange for Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena
- Dec. 15, 2012 – Agreed to terms on a contract with Josh Hamilton
- Dec. 19, 2012 – Acquired Jason Vargas from Seattle in exchange for Kendrys Morales
- Mar. 26, 2013 – Acquired OF Exircado Cayones and LHP Kramer Sneed from Yankees in exchange for OF Vernon Wells
- July 30, 2013 – Acquired INF Grant Green from Oakland in exchange for INF Alberto Callaspo
- Nov. 22, 2013 – Acquired INF David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas from St. Louis in exchange for OF Peter Bourjos & OF Randal Grichuk
- Dec. 10, 2013 – Acquired LHP Tyler Skaggs and LHP Hector Santiago in exchange for INF/OF Mark Trumbo and a PTBNL (A.J. Schugel)
- July 18, 2014 – Acquired RHP Huston Street and RHP Trevor Gott from San Diego in exchange for INF Taylor Lindsey, RHP A.J. Alvarez, INF Jose Rondon and RHP Elliot Morris
- Dec. 10, 2014 – Acquired LHP Andrew Heaney from Dodgers in exchange for INF Howie KendrickDec. 16, 2014 – Acquired OF Matt Joyce from Tampa Bay in exchange for RHP Kevin Jepsen
Here’s a complete list of Dipoto’s moves and grades from the Orange County Register’s Pedro Moura.
Will Dipoto decide to keep manager Lloyd McClendon, who is under contract for next season?
That’s certainly a question that will be asked Tuesday. I doubt he’ll have a solid answer by then. But Dipoto’s problems with Scioscia and his disagreements over personnel decisions might make him want to hand-pick his manager.
Jerry Dipoto bio
Born: May 25, 1968.
Personal: Wife, Tamie; daughters Taylor and Jordan; son Jonah.
Front-office career: 2001, Rockies special assistant to the GM; 2003-2004, Red Sox scouting department; 2005-2006, Rockies director of player personnel; 2006-2010, Diamondbacks vice president, player Personnel & interim general manager; 2011-2015, Angels general manager; 2015 Red Sox special assistant.
Playing career: Was a rght-handed reliever for eight major-league seasons, pitching for the Indians, Mets and Rockies. Was 27-24 with a 4.05 ERA in 390 appearances.
Previous Mariners general managers:
- Lou Gorman, 1977-80
- Dan O’Brien, 1981-83
- Hal Keller, 1984-85
- Dick Balderson, 1986-88
- Woody Woodward, 1988-99
- Pat Gillick, 2000-03
- Bill Bavasi, 2004-08
- Jack Zduriencik, 2009-15