Dipoto, Servais receive contract extensions

General manager promoted to president of baseball operations

September 1st, 2021

SEATTLE -- The Mariners continued to move forward with their eye toward the future, and they did so by committing to the two key figures who have steered this multiyear rebuild, as Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais each received a multiyear contract extension, the club announced on Wednesday.

Dipoto also was promoted to become the club’s first president of baseball operations. Terms of the deals were not disclosed, and both Dipoto and Servais were on a contract that was set to expire at season’s end.

“I never really doubted that we would not be here,” Dipoto said. “As a group, when you deviate from that path, there is no plan, and that was never an option, regardless of what was on the, I guess, horizon for Scott and I moving forward.”

This is the third contract with the team for each, dating back to when Dipoto was first hired as general manager in September 2015 and Servais was brought on one month later as his handpicked manager, his first such gig at any level in pro baseball.

“I'll start it off by just letting everybody know how grateful and excited I am to get the opportunity to continue in this seat in Seattle with the Mariners,” Servais said. “Getting an opportunity here in Seattle when I'd never managed before six years ago was really special.”

So much has changed since Dipoto and Servais were brought on, and even more so since the most recent time they each received a contract extension, back in July 2018.

The roster then was on the cusp of a postseason berth, and this one is just on the outskirts. That farm system was bleak, while this one has catapulted into the No. 2-ranked system in all of baseball. Amid Seattle’s new look and all the highs and lows in between, Mariners ownership sees the Dipoto-Servais tandem taking them into the future.

Beyond a core group of players that the Mariners are bullish on for the immediate and long term, they’ve also solidified their core in the front office. Justin Hollander, who has soared his way to assistant GM, has been an increasingly influential voice in Dipoto’s nucleus, as has director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter and director of player development Andy McKay, among others.

Wednesday’s announcement signaled a commitment to continuity to the group that embarked on and oversaw a rebuild that is nearing the end of its third season.

“Jerry is the architect of that plan,” Mariners chairman and managing general partner John Stanton said. “Scott is the executer of that plan, and it's essential to keep that group -- that team, Jerry and Scott -- in place in order to realize the objective that we all have of winning a World Series.”

A multiyear rebuild that has begun to bear legitimate fruit began just months after Dipoto and Servais signed their previous extensions, and it only manifested after objective conversations with ownership and challenging organizational decisions on the trajectory of the on-field product.

“My interaction with our ownership group has always been logical,” Dipoto said. “They’re smart people. We laid out a plan that we thought was right. And I still don't know. We certainly haven't accomplished our goals, but we're making great progress. When we laid that out with a vision, we did lay out a timeline, and hopefully we've done our jobs and are delivering on that timeline.”

Now, the Mariners are eyeing an even bigger step -- one that they are entrusting will snap a 19-year postseason drought, the longest active in North American professional sports, in the coming years, if not within the month. Seattle sits just 3 1/2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot despite odds that have been against them all season.

Yet the Mariners are in the position that Dipoto alluded in January would be the successful barometer for growth in 2021: “competing for a playoff spot” and “playing meaningful games in August and September." And with 29 games remaining, there is room to advance, even with time running short.

“It’s immeasurable for the young players,” Dipoto said. “If you have the opportunity to play in games that count, and not just as a spoiler, against teams that have playoff aspirations, but to be one of those teams, those are not easy [experiences] to find. A lot of guys have to play a long time before they get that opportunity.”

In these three years, Seattle has transformed its approach to scouting, player development and roster construction. The Mariners have put far more of an emphasis on process-driven psychology from the Minors to the Majors, positional versatility across their defense and a farm system loaded with pitching. The results have included growing pains, most notably a last-place finish in 2019 during which they used an MLB-record 67 players, but also a clearer scope on who might be here long term.

“It's really hard to say that when you have to go through it every day and deal with the some of the pain along the way,” Servais said. “But if you stay disciplined, which I think we've done an excellent job of, disciplined is the shortcut. As soon as you lose the discipline, it just takes longer to get there. And the reason this has turned around a little bit quicker is because we've been very disciplined.”

Wednesday’s agreement also extends Dipoto and Servais’ professional relationship, which dates back to 2000, when Dipoto was a pitcher and Servais was a catcher in the Rockies organization, and both had pondered their futures in the big leagues beyond their on-field careers. Servais was also a pro scout for the Rockies in ’05, when Dipoto was Colorado’s director of player development.

They then spent four years together in the Angels' front office, where Servais climbed to assistant GM and worked under Dipoto, who served in his first GM role in Anaheim and led the Halos to a postseason berth in 2014.

Dipoto’s long-term scope has come into clearer focus, and under Servais, the Mariners’ success on the field has followed. While there is still a way to go, Seattle feels it has the brain trust to push it to the next level.