SEATTLE — In 2022, the Seattle Mariners made the playoffs for the first since 2001, and that feat gave their fans hope that the team was on its way back to the days when being a playoff team was the norm and not the exception.
A big reason why the Mariners did so well this past season was the Mariners' President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto who was the special guest on the Locked On Mariners podcast.
It was an nearly hour-long, wide-ranging discussion that covered everything from the addition of Tommy Le Stella to the roster and who to watch in Spring Training.
Host Ty Dane Gonzalez asked Dipoto about Tommy Le Stella’s signing, “Outside of the press release we haven’t heard much about Tommy La Stella’s signing, what about La Stella made him a good fit for your ballclub and what gives you confidence he can get back on track after the last two years?”
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Dipoto told Gonzalez and co-host Colby Patnode that the Mariners pursued La Stella two years ago when he was a free agent and that the Mariners had many zoom calls and regular phone calls with him during that time.
Dipoto said, “His on-base ability, his ability especially versus right-hand pitching has always been appealing to us.” He added, “The last time Tommy was fully healthy and ready to go, he’s about 20-25% better than the average hitter in the league and if you widdle that down to what he does against right-handed pitching it’s even more of an advantage.”
La Stella was an All-Star in 2019 when he hit 16 home runs with the Angels. Then he spent the past two seasons with the San Francisco Giants where he hit a combined nine home runs in 2021 and 2022 and his batting line last season was the lowest of his career coming in at .239/.282/.350 with two home runs in only 60 games due to injuries to both Achilles tendons.
Dipoto mentioned that the team liked La Stella’s makeup and his experience, especially in the playoffs, and said that the reason they also acquired guys like AJ Pollock, Teoscar Hernandez, and Kolten Wong this offseason was their playoff experience as well. Dipoto added, “We thought that was an important element to add to the team.”
Dipoto was asked if the Mariners were done making moves this offseason and he said, “It’s tough to say.”
He explained the Mariners have meetings to discuss that sort of thing and in the last one they had he said this 40-man roster could very well be the group that heads to Arizona in a couple of weeks for Spring Training.
There was also some discussion about the future payroll and the way the Mariners conduct business with how they draft and trade players rather than spending big money on long-term contracts.
Patnode asked Dipoto about the seemingly slow trade market this offseason and Dipoto mentioned how if you take the Mariners, and teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees out of the discussion, the trade market slows to an even bigger crawl. The trade market, at least at this point in the offseason is doing what it normally does: nearly nothing.
Dipoto has been with the Mariners since 2015. He was their General Manager until late 2022 when he was promoted to President of Baseball Operations.