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Dipoto high on Haniger; Seattle 'making progress'

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Mariners have yet to make a move at the Winter Meetings, but if you listen to general manager Jerry Dipoto, one of the deals Seattle pulled off before arriving outside the nation's capital could carry big ramifications for the team's success this year and beyond.

Dipoto is understandably high on new shortstop Jean Segura, who was acquired from the D-backs the day before Thanksgiving in a deal that cost Seattle starter Taijuan Walker and young shortstop Ketel Marte. But the underlying element to that swap was the addition of outfielder Mitch Haniger, whom Dipoto feels could be a hidden gem and the athletic, right-handed-hitting corner outfielder his club sorely needed to find this offseason.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Mariners have yet to make a move at the Winter Meetings, but if you listen to general manager Jerry Dipoto, one of the deals Seattle pulled off before arriving outside the nation's capital could carry big ramifications for the team's success this year and beyond.

Dipoto is understandably high on new shortstop Jean Segura, who was acquired from the D-backs the day before Thanksgiving in a deal that cost Seattle starter Taijuan Walker and young shortstop Ketel Marte. But the underlying element to that swap was the addition of outfielder Mitch Haniger, whom Dipoto feels could be a hidden gem and the athletic, right-handed-hitting corner outfielder his club sorely needed to find this offseason.

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"For us, Haniger became a critical element of the trade," Dipoto said. "We like the player. We like the upside. We like his physicality."

In short, there's not much Dipoto doesn't rave about regarding the 25-year-old from San Jose, Calif., who was a supplemental first-round Draft pick -- 38th overall selection -- by the Brewers in 2012, and the D-backs' Minor League Player of the Year last season before a late promotion to the big leagues.

"He's athletic, plays all three spots, throws very well and very accurately," Dipoto said. "He's an excellent defender, he's hungry, he's got great makeup. There are many situations where at 25, a guy has performed his way onto the Major League scene. And because he wasn't adored by prospect ratings systems, he kind of flies under the radar.

"But a lot of times, they'll turn out to be really good players. We had a guy like that in Anaheim, Kole Calhoun, who turned out to be a heckuva player. I think Mitch Haniger has a lot of that ability as well."

That said, the Mariners gave up Walker in that deal and now are searching for a rotation replacement. Dipoto continued conversations on several trade fronts on Tuesday in the second day of the Winter Meetings, but indicated nothing seems to be on the front burner.

Video: Johns discusses the Mariners' rotation

"Not much different place today," he said. "We had a handful of conversations with a variety of teams on possible trade targets. I feel like we're making some progress, but nothing imminent."

That could always change in a hurry as the landscape can shift on trade talks if one team decides a prospective move makes sense. The White Sox and Red Sox shook up things on Tuesday with a blockbuster Chris Sale trade, with Boston dealing four prospects for the ace lefty.

Dipoto acknowledged Sale is "a game-changer piece" and feels the Red Sox also added a quality arm in right-hand setup man Tyler Thornburg in a separate deal with the Brewers, but he doesn't think those deals will create any sort of domino effect on the trade market.

"Trades are so team specific," he said. "Most teams evaluate players in a very different way. Each shop is going to have their own system of value on what they'd need to receive in return. Some teams are more risk-averse. Some invite it. Some are looking for upside. Others are looking for 'now' value. And you don't know which position any team is in. I don't think one trade has any effect on others."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seattle Mariners, Mitch Haniger