Mariners hire Jerry Dipoto as new general manager
SEATTLE (AP) Jerry Dipoto was not out of work for long, jumping at the chance to take over as general manager of another AL West franchise.
Dipoto was hired by the Seattle Mariners on Monday, less than three months after stepping down from the same position with the Los Angeles Angels. He replaces Jack Zduriencik, who was fired in late August after seven disappointing seasons during which the club failed to end its playoff drought. With the Toronto Blue Jays making the postseason this year, the Mariners now have the longest playoff absence in baseball at 14 years and counting.
''Jerry impressed us at each step of the process,'' Mariners team President Kevin Mather said in a statement. ''He has a very unique skill set, having been a successful player in the majors, then moving into front offices with steadily increasing responsibilities. Jerry has scouted, spent time in player development and has a track record as a very successful general manager. During our conversations over the past few weeks, it became clear to me that he has a very solid understanding of our team and organization, both where we are and where we want to be. And he has a strategy to get us there.''
Dipoto's job will be to end that playoff drought and continue rebuilding a farm system that had highs and lows during Zduriencik's tenure. Dipoto was the Angels' general manager for 3 1/2 years before resigning on July 1 following clashes with manager Mike Scioscia that began the first year they worked together.
He's been working as a consultant for the Boston Red Sox since mid-August. Dipoto will be formally introduced at a news conference on Tuesday.
''I truly look forward to both the challenges and rewards to come as we chart a fresh course for the future of Mariners baseball,'' Dipoto said.
Dipoto's first job in Seattle will be deciding the future of manager Lloyd McClendon. McClendon had a rousing first season in Seattle when the club won 85 games and its postseason fate came down to the final weekend, but the Mariners regressed this year and entered Monday eight games under .500.
McClendon met with Dipoto for a couple of hours on Monday.
''I thought we hit it off pretty good. We had very honest discussions about a lot of things. It went very well,'' McClendon said.
McClendon added that he hopes he's managing the club next year but understands job security is rare.
''If you're looking for security in this game, you're in the wrong business. That's me and every other manager,'' he said.
Mather said his preference was finding a general manager with previous experience in the role and Dipoto fits. The 47-year-old Dipoto is a former major league reliever who briefly served as the Arizona Diamondbacks' interim GM before the Angels hired him in late 2011 to replace Tony Reagins.
Dipoto had a moderately successful tenure with the Angels, who won 98 games and the AL West title last season in their only playoff appearance under his leadership. His contract option for 2016 was picked up earlier this season by the Angels.
Dipoto capably handled the pressure of working for Angels owner Arte Moreno, who initiated and made the final decisions on the club's lavish signings of sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
But Dipoto's clashes with Scioscia were eventually his undoing. Scioscia and Dipoto first clashed in 2012 when Dipoto fired Mickey Hatcher, Scioscia's longtime hitting coach and friend, over an apparent resistance to statistical analysis. After Moreno forced them to keep working together, the two appeared to mend their relationship in recent years, but it apparently frayed again this year with the Angels' mediocre start to the season.
The Angels' poor farm system was partially restocked by Dipoto, and he signed starting pitchers C.J. Wilson, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago while rebuilding the bullpen around Huston Street and Joe Smith. He also signed Mike Trout to a new six-year, $144.5 million contract through 2020.
But Dipoto also had several costly misses in free agency, including a disastrous class in 2013: Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett all failed in Anaheim. The Angels finished 18 games out of first place with just 78 wins, their worst record in a decade.