After Jim Bowden reported the news, the Seattle Mariners made it official and announced that Jerry Dipoto would be their next general manager. After the disappointing, and misleading tenure of Jack Zduriencik, Dipoto's hiring will usher in a more forward thinking front office, and ultimately a more stable organization.
While Mariners' fans are undoubtedly excited about the future of their team, their success won't come overnight, and they might have to endure another rebuilding period. This situation has a resemblance to when Theo Epstein came to the Cubs, and although his team is one of the best in baseball now, it took three years for his work to payoff.
In 2012 (Epstein was hired in October of 2011), Baseball America ranked the Cubs farm system 14th, and had this to say about their future.
"Impact Talent: All of the Cubs' best prospects are hitters. OFs Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur and SS Javier Baez are up-the-middle players selected in the last three drafts, while 1B Anthony Rizzo arrived in an offseason trade with the Padres.
Depth: With the big league clubs regressing, owner Tom Ricketts authorized a franchise-record $12 million in draft spending last summer. Chicago hopes seven-figure bonuses for Baez, 1B Dan Vogelbach, OF Shawon Dunston Jr. and RHP Dillon Maples will help revitalize the system."
Of their "impact talent players" the only one listed who fulfilled this predication was Rizzo, and he was one of the first major acquisitions of the Esptein-Hoyer era. Jackson and Szczur never panned out, and while Baseball America had high hopes for relievers Rafael Dolis and Jeff Beliveau, neither has had any sustained success at the Major League level.
Unfortunately for Dipoto, his situation is arguably worse, as the farm system he is inheriting was ranked 25th at the start of 2015, and may have gotten worse. Several key prospects have taken steps back this season, and seventh ranked Gabby Guerrero was traded to the Diamondbacks this year. The first task that Dipoto will have to complete as GM, is to project how his current organization will perform over the next few years as it stands.
While he could ultimately come to the conclusion that he can build a winning team now, and that a drastic rebuild isn't necessary, that seems unlikely. Given their farm system, and lack of valuable players at the major league level, it would appear as if the best course of action would be for Dipoto to start from scratch.
He'll have to work around the cumbersome contracts of Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano (especially if they continue to regress), but he can soften the blow by trading Nelson Cruz. It would be a bold move to start off his career with the Mariners, and while their fans would likely set Twitter ablaze with criticisms of their new GM, it would arguably be in the team's best interest.
Cruz has hit at least 40 home runs for the last two years, and in 2015, he's posted a wOBA of .402, a wRC+ of 163, and an fWAR of 5.0. He's been remarkably valuable, but there's no point (other than ticket and merchandise sales) in keeping him on a team that isn't going to compete for the post-season. Cruz is signed through the 2018 season and if he were made available, there would undoubtedly be significant interest in trading for someone with his power.
Dipoto could bring back multiple impact prospects, and while the Mariners would likely have to eat some of the guaranteed $42.75 million that remains on Cruz's contract, it would still help free up tens of millions of dollars. Dipoto has a tough road ahead for rebuilding the Mariners, but trading Cruz could yield immediate dividends.