Mariners unveil new leadership structure

March 12th, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners chairman and managing partner John Stanton said on Wednesday that the club is changing its leadership structure as it begins its search for a new team president.

A search committee for the new president has been established and is being overseen by former Microsoft president of business operations Jeff Raikes. The successful candidate will oversee the front office and the club’s business operations, Stanton said, including sales, marketing and ballpark operations. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto will oversee the baseball operations and report directly to Stanton and the rest of the owners. Dipoto previously reported to former president Kevin Mather, who resigned last month.

Essentially, it will be an even split, though Stanton would not say if Dipoto would receive a title change. Many clubs -- such as the Cubs, Cardinals, D-backs, Red Sox and others -- operate under this structure. Stanton said that the decision to shift was based on consultations he’s had externally, including with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Dipoto hasn’t signed a new extension since the multiyear deal he agreed to in July 2018 that began in ’19. This will be the third year of that agreement.

“Frankly, Jerry's always had responsibility for baseball operations and he's always made the baseball decisions,” Stanton said. “So, I don't think it's particularly new with him and because the decisions, the big decisions, end up being important to ownership. When there is a big issue, he's always involved.

“We feel great about the leadership that Jerry has shown, and I particularly feel good about the relationship that I have with Jerry, so I'm very comfortable. … I'll continue to talk to Jerry and I'll probably talk to Jerry about his role and position.”

As for the new president, the club is opening the search to candidates inside and outside of baseball. The search committee includes Mariners employees and outside voices. Raikes held his role at Microsoft for nearly 30 years, then he was the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for five years, becoming the first non-Gates-family member to lead the organization.

Raikes is also the co-founder of the Raikes Foundation, which supports innovative work in education, youth homelessness and expanded learning programs, according to its website. He’s been a member of the board of trustees at Stanford University since 2012.

Regarding a timeline, Stanton said that the thorough nature of the search process could cover an extended period. Stanton will handle Mather’s responsibilities until the new role is filled. Mather, who resigned last month, will not retain an ownership stake moving forward.

“I would expect that by having this person deal with the front office side of the Mariners, there are good analogies in other sports, outside of sports, as well as within baseball,” Stanton said. “I think I view this as reducing the limits or broadening the aperture of the kind of candidates that we can get to the pool, and I expect it to be a diverse pool.

“From my perspective, when you put a clock on something, you tend to force conclusion … Jeff and I talked about it, and I think we need to get the right answer. And I think that the right answer is going to come as a result of a thorough search. That's the priority. I have seen searches that have gone very quickly in a matter of couple of months, and I’ve seen searches that have gone over a year. I don't want to bias it one way or the other.”