Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, GM Justin Hollander, and manager Scott Servais conducted an end-of-season press conference with reporters this afternoon. The presser covered a variety of topics, including the club’s plans for the offseason, the future of the coaching staff, and updates regarding a few of the club’s injured players.
Dipoto took the opportunity to respond to comments from catcher Cal Raleigh on the night of Seattle’s elimination from postseason contention, in which he called upon the front office to spend more aggressively this offseason than the club has in the past and referenced other teams that acquired “big-time” pitchers and hitters in recent offseasons.
“His opinions are his own, and I don’t begrudge anybody the ability to share their opinions,” Dipoto said (as transcribed from a video courtesy of Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times), “I don’t know that the solution to our problems is big name players… but would I like to add big name players? Sure, I think we all would. I think that to the extent that Cal was trying to express an opinion, and I can’t speak for him, he wants to get better… we all do. Whether that is by way of a big-name player, you know, there are a number of teams that are evidence that that might not be the only way you can build a roster.”
For his part, Hollander added (as relayed by MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer) that the club has “plenty of resources” headed into the offseason with which to acquire talent, both in terms of player capital for potential trades and financial power, as they look to return to the postseason in 2024. That tracks with publicly available information on Seattle’s financial situation headed into 2024. The club spent $152MM on player payroll in 2023, with the luxury tax payroll just passing $196MM. Before accounting for arbitration-level contracts, the club has around $45MM of budget space if the club’s budget remains stagnant relative to 2023, with over $75MM to work with for luxury tax purposes.
Servais, meanwhile, said (per Divish) that while the roles and responsibilities of certain personnel may change, the club expects to welcome back its entire coaching staff for the 2024 campaign. Hollander, meanwhile, provided updates on several injured players including left-hander Marco Gonzales and first baseman Evan White, both of whom are expected to be ready for Spring Training next year.
The longest-tenured member of the Mariners, rotation, Gonzales made 131 starts for the club between 2018 and 2022 with a 3.94 ERA and 4.35 FIP, but managed just 50 innings of work this season due to a nerve issue that eventually required season-ending surgery. White, meanwhile, underwent hip surgery back in May. The 27-year-old signed a $24MM extension with Seattle prior to his big league debut but has struggled to hit at the big league level, with a career slash line of just .165/.235/.308.
The biggest news, as relayed by Adam Jude of the Seattle Times, was regarding that of left-hander Robbie Ray. The 2021 AL Cy Young award winner underwent Tommy John surgery back in May, and he appears to be making progress as expected in his rehab process, with the club considering a return around the 2024 All Star break to be a “best-case scenario.” That would be just under 14 months after Ray underwent the surgery, on the quicker end of the typical Tommy John rehab for pitchers, which usually takes around 14-18 months. Ray posted a 3.71 ERA across 32 starts for the Mariners in 2022 but made just one appearance in 2023, allowing five runs (three earned) in 3 1/3 innings before departing his first start of the season due to injury.