Mariners, Dipoto reach multiyear extension
SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto, one of the biggest wheelers and dealers in Major League Baseball over his first three seasons as Mariners general manager, earned a new deal himself on Friday as the club presented him with a multiyear contract extension.
This particular contract wasn't one Dipoto had to mull over for long.
"A couple minutes, really," Dipoto said with a smile. "It was mostly a phone call and a suggestion. This is a no-brainer for me. I told you all when I got here that this was a dream job for me. It's a great market in a city that is starved to win, with an opportunity to be creative."
Since taking over a team that went 76-86 in 2015, Dipoto has rebuilt the Major League roster by making the most trades of any GM in baseball since then, putting together a club that entered play on Friday with a 56-32 record and an excellent opportunity to end the franchise's 17-year playoff drought.
Dipoto, 50, is the ninth GM in Mariners history and he's rebuilt the baseball operations and scouting departments as well as the roster, while also hiring Scott Servais to manage a club that has turned into one of the bigger surprises in the Majors this season despite the 80-game suspension of Robinson Cano.
One of Dipoto's next orders of business will be extending the contract of Servais, whose own initial three-year deal is also set to expire at the end of the season.
"Without question," Dipoto said. "Scott has been my partner for far longer than we've been here, whether it was dreaming about what we wanted to create as a franchise or in player development or what we were doing in scouting and now building a Major League roster and how to guide it. I don't envision a time when I'm doing my job without him doing his job."
Servais, who'd never been a manager prior to being hired by Dipoto three years ago after they'd worked together in the Angels' front office, said he "loves being here and loves Seattle" and obviously would welcome the chance to continue in his role.
"It's been interesting, certainly with all the activity and trades here and what he's done," Servais said. "He's unbelievably creative in trying to come up with ways to get our Major League team to a very high-caliber level and then keep it there. It's been fun working with him. You never know what he's got going. He's always got 10 irons in the fire and I enjoy being a part of it."
Dipoto has done more than just turn over a roster that has only seven players from the original 40-man roster inherited from Jack Zduriencik at the end of 2015. Dipoto pushed some envelopes by bringing in Andy McKay, a sports psychologist with the Rockies, as the farm director. Dipoto hired Dr. Lorena Martin to run the "high performance" department this offseason.
And Dipoto has been open to deals -- some wildly successfully, some painfully less so -- that have created a new culture at the Major League level.
"It takes a village to build a baseball organization and we've got a pretty good village," Dipoto said. "From our analytics department to our player-development program to what we do on the scouting levels to what we're encroaching upon now in high performance, it's a really creative group."
The Mariners are 220-192 since Dipoto's arrival, the eighth-best record in the Majors, and their current mark is the fourth best in MLB this season.
What has clicked?
"People," Dipoto said. "I really do think it's people. And health has helped quite a lot. I think we had a good team last year, we were just on the wrong side of injury. This year we have people. And I'll say the energy level in that room, I've been in big league clubhouses for 25 years and I've never experienced a group that energetic.
"I've been with teams that have won the World Series and teams that have gone to the postseason. This group has more energy and more belief in themselves. When you get to the last third of a game with this group, they believe they're going to beat you. That's how they're doing it."
And that energy starts at the top.
"He hasn't stopped since the day he got here," said team president and CEO Kevin Mather.
And while the Mariners didn't release the length of Dipoto's new deal, that tenure will continue with a contract that extends "well into our future," according to Mather.