SEATTLE -- The Mariners on Sunday made another pivotal extension with a key member of their rebuild, though this one was off the field and in the front office.
The club announced that it has promoted Justin Hollander from assistant GM to general manager and executive vice president, where he’ll continue to work alongside Jerry Dipoto, the club’s president of baseball operations. Hollander has been an instrumental figure in the front office and helped construct the roster that ended the drought.
“This week has really been a dream come true for me ... Obviously, Jerry for trusting me and believing me and insisting that I have a place here as his partner for as long as I want to be is really special,” Hollander said.
What it means
One year after ownership promoted and extended Dipoto, it rewarded his right-hand man, a front office member who has been instrumental in acquiring many big-ticket free agents, such as Robbie Ray, as well as trades, such as the deal that netted Eugenio Suárez from Cincinnati, along with impacting player development and fleshing out the club’s analytics department.
“He's turned into what I call the glue guy in our baseball operations department,” manager Scott Servais said. “He's the guy that keeps everything together. He is the link that ties in our analysts, a lot of our scouting programs, what we're doing and trades and all this other stuff. I know Jerry is the one that finally pulls the trigger on that, but a lot of the ideas along the way have come from Justin.”
Hollander has been as instrumental in the front office as any member during the Dipoto era, and given how far the Mariners have come since the rebuild, continuity for sustainability was paramount.
“I've often said when you trust somebody, you can go really fast,” Servais said. “And in this business, sometimes you have to go fast as far as making decisions and where you want to go and you have to pivot quickly. Because if you don't trust the people around you, now you’ve got to be really slow and deliberate -- and you’ll get beat by other people and other teams.”
How Hollander’s role changes
On the grander level, Hollander’s contributions won’t change much. His promotion is rewarding hard work but also filling Dipoto's former GM title that was vacated when he was promoted last year. Seattle's front office structure underwent a facelift in March 2021, when ownership created a more pronounced distinction between business and baseball operations.
Since being promoted to assistant GM in January 2020, Hollander has taken on more leads on transactions, notably overseeing the entire negotiations with Ray’s representatives that led to his $115 million free agent contract last offseason, as well as exclusively negotiating Luis Castillo’s $108 million extension that was finalized last weekend. He also serves as the primary liaison between the club and the Commissioner’s Office.
“I think over the last year, it's been something that has evolved more organically,” Hollander said. “Jerry and I split up the trade talks about 50/50. We split up the free agent and the extension negotiations about 50/50; same thing with the supervision of baseball ops staff. So I think it's probably more of a codification of our present roles than it is any gigantic change.”
Hollander’s impact so far
Hollander joined the Mariners in September 2016 as director of baseball operations before being promoted to his most recent role. Aside from the title changes, Hollander’s responsibilities have grown to the point where he’s now fully involved in all areas of the Mariners’ Major League operations, as well as player procurement, negotiations of Major League contracts and 40-man roster composition.
“Justin has been an integral part of our baseball ops leadership group and a wonderful partner to me throughout our time together,” Dipoto said in a statement. “His passion, intelligence, people skills and creativity show up every day. Moving forward, the Mariners are simply a better organization with Justin in this role.”
Terms of the deal
Hollander received a new contract that included a pay increase, terms of which were undisclosed, per club policy.
Prior to joining the Mariners, Hollander spent the previous nine seasons in the Angels’ front office, and he interviewed with the Halos after the 2020 season for the GM job that eventually went to Perry Minasian.
“I really wasn't even sure whether I wanted to leave,” Hollander said. “But there are 30 of these jobs in the world, and so when someone wants to talk to you about one, you feel obligated to go through the process, and when it was all over, I think I felt mostly relieved. This is where I was most comfortable.”