SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto has built a reputation since his arrival in Seattle as a general manager willing to wheel and deal away many of the Mariners' better prospects in the multitude of trades made to improve the Major League club.
But Dipoto, on this week's episode of The Wheelhouse podcast that was released on Thursday, insisted he does indeed place great value on young talent and expects that trend to change now that he's been able to retool the big league roster with a youth movement that should sustain itself for the next few years.
• Listen to The Wheelhouse with Jerry Dipoto
The Mariners have gone from the oldest roster in baseball three years ago to a club that will have only two position starters older than 30 next year in Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano. Dipoto has dealt for a number of youngsters just reaching their prime -- Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, Dee Gordon, Ben Gamel, Ryon Healy, Guillermo Heredia -- at a definite cost to his farm system.
But he says that ploy has been the first phase of a longer-term strategy.
"I love prospects," Dipoto said. "Young players, controllable players with potential for impact are how organizations are built. Unfortunately, sometimes it can get confused as to what is future impact and what is a future prospect. We have been diligent in sorting through and vetting the targets we've acquired. We understand we're giving up something to make that happen.
"Effectively what I think we've been able to do is build more depth and quality around our Major League group, build up the upper levels. While we certainly depleted the mid-levels of our system, now we've bought ourselves what I think is something like three to five years with some of the additions we've made at the big-league level to regrow the seed at the Minor League levels."
Dipoto has made 62 trades since taking over prior to the 2016 season to improve the depth of the 40-man group, and he knows that comes with risks.
"If one or two of the players we've traded become stars, I'll regret that deal," Dipoto said. "We understand we're going to make mistakes, but we also came in with a plan that I believe allows us to be as competitive as we can be while we have an additional plan for how we're going to regenerate our system."
Dipoto says the organization's 40-man roster is much deeper and younger now, but he's not writing off the farm system either.
"I still feel there's a lot of quality there with guys like Kyle Lewis, Sam Carlson, Evan White, Julio Rodriguez among others," Dipoto said. "And we're certainly not short on controllable mid-20-somethings at the big league level.
"Now we have time to add via the Draft and international signings and grow the seed again and hopefully stop the tidal wave of transactions that we put in play to try to create this roster advantage."
Among other topics on this week's 40-minute podcast with Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith:
• Dipoto said it's possible the Mariners will go to a six-man rotation at times this year, though additional off-days in the new schedule only make that likely in certain spots.
• Looking back at 2017, he wryly said his favorite day of the season came in March when Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly squared off in a pitching duel in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela and Team USA.
"Shortly thereafter, things started to unravel for us," Dipoto said, noting the multitude of injuries that wracked his rotation. "It was really just a frustrating season, and hopefully we can enjoy something more normal in 2018, because I do feel we have a ton of talent. If we see the pitching staff come together like we hope it can, this team has a chance to do some real damage."
• With the added relief depth this offseason, he says the final two spots in the bullpen as he now envisions it will come down to Dan Altavilla, James Pazos, Tony Zych and newcomer Nick Rumbelow.
• Dipoto also provided some unique insight to his personal life, including his amazing baseball memorabilia collection and the parade of visitors it used to bring to his basement, how he met his wife on a blind date set up by her aunt that he met buying a painting of the 1985 Royals, his love for the game and its history and his one-time goal of collecting an autograph from every player in the Majors.