SEATTLE -- When Jerry Dipoto agreed to a multiyear contract extension to remain the Mariners' general manager two weeks ago, he said he couldn't imagine working without manager Scott Servais as his partner. And there's a good reason for that trusted relationship.The two have known each other since being teammates
SEATTLE -- When Jerry Dipoto agreed to a multiyear contract extension to remain the Mariners' general manager two weeks ago, he said he couldn't imagine working without manager Scott Servais as his partner. And there's a good reason for that trusted relationship.
The two have known each other since being teammates with the Rockies in 2000 and talked then of Servais someday becoming a manager. When Dipoto took over the Mariners' baseball operations three years ago, he hired Servais to manage despite never having held the job at any level.
And on Friday, the Mariners extended that deal with a new multiyear contract as they come out of the All-Star break with the fourth-best record in the Major Leagues at 58-39.
"We talked about it for many, many years," Dipoto said. "We always talked about, 'What is your dream job?' This is my dream job, what I do today. And managing is Scott's dream job, and I've known about that for 15-20 years. This was always what he wanted to do, it was just a matter of if he'd ever get that opportunity. And when this came to be, he got the opportunity and he's run with it. I think he's done a great job."
Servais has posted a 222-199 record in his first 2 1/2 seasons, already the fourth-most wins for a manager in franchise history. He has the fifth-most wins of any manager in MLB since taking over in 2016, behind only Joe Maddon of the Cubs (251), AJ Hinch of the Astros (249), Terry Francona of the Indians (248) and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers (248).
"Ultimately the game is about the players," Servais said. "We have a special group here. And what our coaching staff has been able to do with that group should not go unnoticed. I would not be here without them. I love our guys and how we prepare and how we go about things."
Servais' .527 winning percentage is the second best in Mariners history behind only Lou Piniella's .542, and he trails only Piniella (840-711), Jim Lefebvre (233-253) and Darrell Johnson (226-362) in most career victories, with the chance to pass Lefebvre and Johnson in the coming days.
But Dipoto says Servais' most-impressive record is the club's 82-57 mark in one-run games since taking the job.
"That is a phenomenal record and reflective of good decision-making when the game matters, keeping the energy level high, because that's how you win close games in the big leagues," Dipoto said. "It's really a reflection of what Scott has done in this clubhouse with this team at the right time. I couldn't be happier that we get to move forward together and get to experience this for many more years."
Servais played 11 seasons in the Majors as a catcher before moving into scouting and front-office duties. He was an assistant general manager in charge of scouting and player development under Dipoto with the Angels from 2012-15 and previously spent six years as the senior director of player development with the Rangers.
Servais now done an excellent job molding a diverse group of players that has seen considerable turnover with Dipoto's frenetic roster churning, and now he will get the opportunity to keep working with that club going forward.
Servais acknowledges he's learned on the job and will continue learning. Allowing players to be themselves is a big part of that process.
"You need to let people come in and be who they are, let their personalities come out," he said. "Let them wear their uniform the way they want to wear it, whatever haircut they want to go with, that's really secondary to me. I wasn't always that way. But over time, I've learned.
"My own kids have helped me learn that. At the end of the day, it's about putting people in a good spot where they can perform, have fun, feel good about going to work every day and feel like they're a part of something and part of a family. That's what we have here."
Servais said he's taken a more relaxed approach this season, relying more on his coaching staff and delegating duties better than he did in his first two seasons in Seattle.
"At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut," he said. "I just want to be myself and let my coaches be themselves. When you keep people busy and put more on their plate, they're happier and I really feel that throughout our entire clubhouse this year. It's been a blast. I've enjoyed every part of this season and the best is yet to come."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.