Could Mariners add before Trade Deadline?

Dipoto likes foundation of team, but is open to deals

July 8th, 2017
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto talks to reporters in Seattle, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, during the Mariners' annual pre-season briefing before the start of Spring Training, (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)Ted S. Warren/AP

SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto acknowledged Friday that his team has "underperformed" over the last several weeks despite regaining many of its key injured players, but he fully believes the club is still capable of contending for a playoff spot and he remains open to adding pitching before the upcoming July 31 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline.

"It's disappointing because we had a nice stretch in the schedule that set us up to do some damage before we head to the All-Star break and we haven't taken advantage of it," Dipoto said. "We came out flat, we didn't show up, effectively. Frankly, from my job to [manager] Scott's [Servais'] job to the players, we have to do better than we've done."

Dipoto has been pleased with the team's offense for the most part, aside from a recent inconsistent stretch, and took responsibility for a roster makeup that has forced the club to carry an extra pitcher for most of the first half and thus has led to some of his position players getting worn down physically at times.

"Hopefully we're able to solve that as we get the second half underway," Dipoto said.

Of more long-term concern is a pitching staff that hasn't lived up to expectations due in part to injuries and inconsistency. With Drew Smyly out for at least 12-15 months following Tommy John surgery and 's status uncertain due to lingering shoulder issues, the rotation has more of a need both the remainder of this season and in 2018.

Dipoto said the recent losing stretch -- with just two wins in the last 11 games going into Friday against the A's -- has not led him to reassess Trade Deadline thinking.

"Not at all," Dipoto said. "Our roster plan has never really changed. I've said from the beginning we're positioning ourselves to both buy and sell at the Trade Deadline, if that is what presents itself. Which is to say, we could do nothing or we could do both. We have to be creative in our thinking.

"We are playing in a league with 12 of 15 teams within five games of a playoff spot and we are one of them. We have as much talent as anybody else on that board and we've seen what this team can do when it's clicking on all cylinders. So as we move forward, whether it be for the second half of 2017 or 2018 and beyond, our goal is to continue to build onto the core of this team."

Dipoto notes a budding group of youngsters in their 20s with considerable team control "gives us a nice foundation," along with the veteran core. Clearly the key now is to build up the pitching staff. Dipoto noted there are two periods when it's possible to add starting pitching, either during free agency during the winter or at the Trade Deadline.

"We're not going to empty both barrels to try to go out and find the ace to perch atop the rotation to take us to the promised land, because that guy doesn't exist," he said. "But there are two windows when you can access starting pitching, so your antenna have to be up. If it's out there and we can access it, we'll stay in tune with it. I can't promise you that we will or won't, but we will stay in tune with it."

And given Dipoto's history of trade activity, don't bet against a deal or two coming to fruition in the coming weeks.