LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jerry Dipoto came to the Winter Meetings looking to bolster his pitching staff, and the Mariners' general manager headed home on Thursday feeling like it was mission accomplished.Though the deal won't officially be announced until he passes a physical next week, sources confirmed the club
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jerry Dipoto came to the Winter Meetings looking to bolster his pitching staff, and the Mariners' general manager headed home on Thursday feeling like it was mission accomplished.
Though the deal won't officially be announced until he passes a physical next week, sources confirmed the club came to agreement on a two-year, $17 million deal with free-agent reliever Juan Nicasio on Wednesday.
Dipoto also made a pair of trades using some of the Mariners' $3.5 million of international pool money to acquire reliever Shawn Armstrong from the Indians and Minor League starter Anthony Misiewicz from the Rays.
With Seattle adding Yankees first baseman Mike Ford in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the club's 40-man roster will be full once Nicasio officially signs, and Dipoto indicated his major roster additions are likely complete.
After missing out on Japanese two-way standout Shohei Ohtani, Dipoto came to the Meetings looking for the biggest impact pitcher for what is expected to be a 13-man staff next year, knowing it likely would be a reliever because of how the game has evolved. And he wasn't alone, as late-innings relievers proved to be the hottest commodity in Florida.
• Hot Stove Tracker
"It's not something that should be taking anybody by surprise," Dipoto said. "It's something we've talked about a lot. I've referenced it as our wolf pack. We want to take our No. 1 pitcher and No. 12 or 13 pitcher and compress them, find a way they meet in the middle a little sooner than they used to. Because that's the way the game is going. That's why you see free agency revolving around bullpens. This is where teams are going to get their impact."
As for the rotation? Dipoto feels James Paxton, Felix Hernandez. Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez are a solid top four, with Ariel Miranda, Marco Gonzales and Andrew Moore competing for the fifth spot. Leake, Ramirez and Gonzales all were acquired by trade in the final two months last season when the club was beset by injuries. Moore, the club's top pitching prospect in '17, was rushed to the Majors to fill in as well.
"We feel like we're 8-9 starters deep, and that is, for better or worse, one of the benefits of last year," Dipoto said.
The Mariners will finalize the deal with Nicasio early next week. Otherwise, Dipoto's offseason work is largely done. He has made seven trades -- filling key position holes at first base with Ryon Healy and center field with Dee Gordon -- and lined up the bullpen.
Dipoto never seems to stop working to add depth or options wherever possible, but don't expect any more major moves this winter.
The club does have $2 million in international pool money available and could use that to acquire more prospects. Former scouting director Tom McNamara, now a special assistant to Dipoto, was headed to the Dominican Republic to get a look at well-regarded Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, who is expected to be cleared soon to take offers from Major League clubs.
Ford was selected from the Yankees, and the 25-year-old first baseman will be given a shot to show where he might fit in during Spring Training. Seattle also added a pair of catchers -- Joe Odom from the Braves and Tyler Baker from the D-backs -- in the Minor League phase of the Draft, adding organizational depth at that position.
GM's bottom line
"Like I said at the beginning of the offseason, I never thought it was necessary to find a starter. It was necessary for us to find impact." -- Dipoto, on the willingness to add a quality reliever over a starting pitcher
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.