Jerry Dipoto is either stupid or a liar. Probably the latter, but don’t discount the former.
The Mariners’ president of baseball operations told KJR radio’s Dave Mahler that Seattle would tell free agent Carlos Correa that if he only was willing to play shortstop, he’d better look for a job elsewhere.
“Of course,” Dipoto said. “We already told JP yes. JP Crawford is our shortstop.”
Sure thing, Jerry. If a two-time All-Star, who’s 27 years old and already has 18 career postseason home runs, wants to come to Seattle, it’s going to have to be somewhere other than the position where he not only just won the Gold Glove, but the Platinum Glove as the best overall fielder in the American League.
You simply could not possibly move Crawford, who is all of 101 days younger than Correa and owns a .367 career slugging percentage. No disrespect to Crawford, a very nice ballplayer who has a Gold Glove of his own from last year, but he’s hit fewer home runs in his career (21) than Correa hit this year (26). If you went on Card Sharks, and they said they asked 100 people how many people said that over the next five years, Correa would be the better shortstop, and your opponent said 97, you’d be smart to guess that the real answer was higher.
Dipoto can say whatever he wants, because the Mariners aren’t signing Correa. Seattle has rarely been a big player on the free-agent market: the only player they’ve ever imported for a contract of more than $70 million is Robinson Canó, and that was a disaster. Every other big Mariners contract has gone to players — Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, Ichiro — who already were in Seattle and wanted to stay because even though the team hasn’t been to the playoffs in 20 years, it’s still an awesome city with great fans.
Those fans deserve better than Dipoto lying to them. If Correa came to the Mariners and said, “You know, I’ve heard great things about this place and always loved it as a visitor. I want to sign here, but only if I can play shortstop,” the presence of Crawford at that position would not be a holdup. Put him at third base alongside Correa and the Mariners would have an incredible left side of the infield, or put him at second base and have a great double-play combo.
The issue is not, or at least should not be, that the Mariners are unwilling to move Crawford to another position for Correa. It’s that the Mariners are not signing Correa because his price is going to be well out of their budget. Which, whatever, there’s no reason that Seattle shouldn’t be able to spend more money, but at least it would be honest.
It doesn’t even have to be framed as being cheap. It would be perfectly reasonable for Dipoto to say, “Look, obviously Correa is a great player and he’s going to be a huge part of things wherever he winds up. We have a good young core that we really like, and we’re looking to add around them in ways that make us a more complete team. We need starting pitching, first and foremost, more stability behind the plate, and another bat in the outfield. If opportunities come up to upgrade our infield, we’ll certainly look at that, but shortstop is not enough of a priority for us, with J.P. Crawford on board, to get into a bidding war with the Yankees and Dodgers at shortstop.”
Instead, we’re left with Dipoto saying stuff that makes him look ridiculous. That’s not good for him, not good for the Mariners, and not good for their fans.