Since the Seattle Mariners hired Jerry Dipoto as their new General Manager on September 28, the former Angels executive has made five trades and signed three free agents in what is easily the busiest offseason of any team in the majors. After the Mariners slumped to fourth place in the AL West last season with a lineup full of slow-footed sluggers, Dipoto has focused on improving the team’s speed and defense with each of his many transactions.
This week, Dipoto made a trade and free agent signing that should significantly shape the Mariners’ 2016 starting outfield. First, on Tuesday, Dipoto traded high-strikeout/high-homer slugger Mark Trumbo to the Baltimore Orioles, along with just-acquired reliever C.J. Riefenhauser, in exchange for back-up catcher Steve Clevenger. Presumably, this move is about free up playing time and budget space for the Mariners: Trumbo is projected to earn $9.1 million in 2016, his final arbitration year, and his departure clears up playing time for more adept outfield defenders like Franklin Gutierrez and Leonys Martin.
Today, Dipoto inserted another veteran outfielder into the mix by signing free agent Nori Aoki to a one-year deal. In 2015, Aoki primary played left field for the San Francisco Giants after playing primarily right field for the Kansas City Royals in their unsuccessful 2014 trip to the World Series.
It seems like a safe bet that the 2016 Mariners will finish well better than bottom-five in outfield Utility Zone Rating, as the team did last year.