Is it the right move for Jerry Dipoto to take the Mariners under a full rebuild? Has he gotten enough value in a month of big trades? Here's what the baseball press are saying about Dipoto's surgical teardown of the Mariners' roster.
The Mariners are leaving no doubt: They’re in full teardown mode. General manager Jerry Dipoto has made six trades involving 24 players over the last month. Jean Segura is a Phillie. Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano are now Mets. James Paxton a Yankee.
Our columnists have already weighed in: Matt Calkins wonders if the rebuild will pay off with a brighter future, and Larry Stone says this dark days are ahead, but it’s the right decision.
Now, on to reaction from around the media …
Keith Law of ESPN says the Mariners are betting on J.P. Crawford, but it’s too early to dismiss the one-time top prospect.
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“For the Mariners, this is a big bet on Crawford’s potential with a change of scenery and, perhaps, a wake-up call that his huge natural talent alone. … Crawford has a good eye and disciplined approach, but hasn’t always converted that into performance, failing to capitalize when he gets into hitter’s counts, despite having enough bat speed and good hand-eye coordination. He’s a potentially plus defender at shortstop, even better at third, with great instincts and hands and plenty of arm for the left side of the infield. He was a plus runner when he signed, and occasionally you’ll see that speed again, but I’ve caught him quite a few times in the last five seasons and usually get average to below-average run times from him from home to first. There’s just too much ability here to dismiss Crawford after half a season of major-league at-bats.”
Law also believes even if Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano produce as expected for the Mets, they could still be haunted by sending Jarred Kelenic to Seattle.
“He’s a potential five-tool player if he hits, with a 6 arm (out of 8 on the scouting scale), 6 range, and at least 6 speed, with power trending more toward 7. He has a great body — athletic and well-built — projecting to get stronger but not so big he has to move out of center field. He faced better competition the previous summer and showed some idea of the strike zone, which carried over into his spring travel schedule this year and then into pro ball, where he demolished GCL pitching and moved up to the Appy League. He’s 19 already, and will turn 20 in July, so he was a bit old for a high school draft pick, and should go right to the Midwest League. If he hits there like he hit last summer, the Mariners might have a superstar in him.”
Sports Illustrated’s Jon Tayler pours one out for Mariners fans, destined for at least a few more years of misery.
“Teams hoard their cheap talent; it’s never been a worse time to try to tank. Yet that’s what the Mariners will do, joining the sad club of other bummer teams and consigning fans to a long stretch of pointless, awful baseball. And while those dedicated folks who make the trip to Safeco will be rewarded with some truly uninspired play, Seattle will sell them on better days ahead while counting up the money saved by tanking. Because in the end, that’s what rebuilds are all about: cutting costs.”
Jim Bowden of The Athletic grades the Cano-Diaz deal and gives the Mariners a ‘B’.
“The key questions for the Mets are how much longer Canó will be able to stay at second base and produce offensively at his accustomed level, and whether Díaz can stay healthy and remain one of the game’s best closers. For the Mariners, the key will solely rest on the development of Kelenic, who has the potential to be an All-Star-caliber player, and Dunn, who profiles as a mid-rotation starter.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says the Mariners’ rebuild didn’t have to be this painful.
“It has been 17 years since it was the most prestigious home on the block, but with the wear and tear, it needed an upgrade to fix the flaws. Still, no one told the Seattle Mariners they had to douse it with gasoline, light a match, and watch the entire structure disintegrate. … They’ve become the Northwest version of the Miami Marlins.”
ESPN’s Buster Olney says the Mariners picked the right time for a rebuild and speculates what could come next.
“Presumably, there are many more deals to come for Dipoto, who is to baseball transactions what Wayne Gretzky was to goal-scoring. Evaluators with other teams expect that given the Mariners’ devotion to dumping Cano — eating $20 million and taking on the contracts of outfielder Jay Bruce and reliever Anthony Swarzak — Seattle will do whatever it takes to trade its most expensive remaining player, Kyle Seager.”
The Athletic’s Eno Sarris says Dipoto is hurting his own rebuild by attempting to dump big contracts.
“The conceit here is that the Mariners could’ve gotten more for Edwin Diaz if they hadn’t attached him to Robinson Cano and his long contract. That has to be true because Cano’s contract was at least $48 million under water by sober analysis, and the Mariners only took on about $21 million in 2019 contracts and threw in another $20 million in cash. … It’s exciting to get a couple young players back, but it really looks like the Mariners could’ve gotten a better prospect for Diaz if they weren’t so focused on getting rid of Cano’s contract.”
In Deadspin, Lauren Theisen says there’s now about two Mariners worth getting jazzed about in 2019.
“After a couple of trades in the past 24 hours or so, the Seattle Mariners officially suck again, and they don’t even have fond memories of recent playoff runs to keep them warm over what promises to be several years worth of rebuilding. … Mariners management might be able to sell fans on the team’s chances of becoming the next Houston Astros, but they’re still a successful tank job and a couple of successful drafts away from being able to make that case in earnest. The truth is, making a team purposefully bad in the hopes of hitting the jackpot with some kids somewhere down the line doesn’t require any real skill or bravery. Shamelessness is enough, and it should at least be enough to buy GM Jerry Dipoto a little more time to do whatever it is he’s doing.”