The Mariners are now the second-youngest team in the AL West, behind only the perpetually retooling A’s. Dipoto kept the core of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Felix Hernandez and then went crazy rebuilding around them by virtue of his frantic deal-making.
ORLANDO, Fla. — To the world, he is Trader Jerry, the whirling dervish of transactions. Barely a conversation goes by when someone doesn’t tease him about when his next deal is going to come.
Asked if that freewheeling-dealing reputation amuses or annoys him, Jerry Dipoto says mostly the former — except when he feels that his M.O. is being misunderstood.
Here’s what Dipoto wants people to know about the 65 or so deals involving more than 125 players he has made in the 26½ months since he became the Mariners’ general manager (including two more during the just-completed winter meetings): He’s not trading just for the sake of trading. And he’s not mortgaging the future to win now.
“We have not emptied the farm system to go acquire veteran players to make a run at a postseason,” he said. “We have gone out, and we have effectively moved players around the league to acquire players that are in their prime who are under team control, almost all of whom are in their 20s.”
Sometimes, in fact, Dipoto doesn’t think people recognize the transformation that has been made, to a team that has a much younger core. The presence of second baseman Robinson Cano and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, both in their mid-30s, as Seattle’s most prominent players has created a false impression, he believes.
“I think what we’ve done, while people were looking for one result, we were rebuilding the way the organization is set up,” he said.