Smyly about the 2017 Mariners: Thanks, Jerry

Winning the offseason does not win you a trophy. Winning the offseason leads to bloated expectations and disappointed fanbases. It guts farm systems, exposes flawed rosters, and leads to eventual roster teardowns in future offseasons. With that said, I should be wary of creeping excitement for the 2017 Mariners.

But why am I still excited about Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners?

Dipoto has now traded Taijuan Walker, Alex Jackson, Luiz Gohara, Ryan Yarbrough and Carlos Vargas. If Jerry did not draft him, or if you are a high ceiling/low floor guy, you are likely on a different roster by now. Making a trade is not inherently productive. Hell, firing off jokes like “Jerry Dipoto loves to trade players as much as Joe Biden loves Obama” is easy, but it is also equally terrifying and hilarious for Mariners fans. Is this team actually better because of the thing Jerry does more than anybody in baseball?

The answer seems to be yes. Dipoto has been building a roster with clear desires (desire fits especially well for nabbing Drew Smyly, apparently). After these last three trades (the Mariners netted Yovani Gallardo, Jarrod Dyson, Shae Simmons and Drew Smyly), this roster makes sense with what Jerry has wanted all along. The Mariners have objectively upgraded the rotation, shortstop and the outfield this offseason. They did this without giving up Tyler O’Neill or Kyle Lewis. The team is faster, more athletic and more capable of dealing with underperforming pitching.

Smyly and Dyson are key components to Dipoto’s trade whirlwind and the ultimate potential of this team. Outfield defense and baserunning were atrocious for the Mariners last year Dyson is elite in both areas (Ranks). Dyson, along with Haniger/Heredia/Gamel and Leonys Martin should help the pitchers all season long.

Mallex Smith is so fast that he was a Mariner for less than an hour before he was gone. Getting Smyly in return, a guy with a home run problem but #2/3 starter upside, makes much more sense for this roster than *Mallex does at the moment. Unlike Gallardo/Ariel Miranda/Chris Heston, Smyly is a starter who can push this team to a win total that’s higher than the projections, especially since a Felix Hernandez bounceback season and Hisashi Iwakuma/James Paxton health and sustained effectiveness are not guaranteed.

The Mariners are not winning a trophy because Jerry Dipoto has made 11 trades this offseason. The expectations for this team are still to finally make the playoffs. The fanbase is certainly acquainted with disappointments, so a 2017 failure would be more of the same for the Mariners faithful. The farm system is thin, so this year may be the final chance for this roster to reach the promised land.

But at least the Mariners are in this position. These moves today and last week nudged the Mariners up a couple games in Fangraphs projections, which shows how tight the American League could be. All it took was Madman Jerry D, sitting in that GM suite at Safeco Field, feverishly hounding GM’s across the league to make it happen. If the Mariners miss the playoffs, it will not be because of a roster that did not make sense or because the GM made inconsistent decisions. There is a clear philosophy. If the Mariners miss the playoffs it will be because baseball does not care if your roster makes sense, no matter how hard you try.

*Mallex could be a younger version of Dyson, which would be nice for a future Mariners core with Kyle Lewis and Tyler O’Neill, but fairly reduntant for 2017

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