Dipoto said something interesting on Mariners.org:
"With trades, you're acquiring players that fit your roster," he said. "It gives you the ability to fit a puzzle piece in with some degree of precision, because you identify the pieces and move forward. With free agents, you're in the market competing with 29 other teams. You have to fit the puzzle piece, but also sell your team, stadium, manager, city, the money. Each step gets more complicated."
MORE precision in trades? Than just going shopping for exactly the player you want?
Well, yeah. It sounds counterintuitive. But this has been an SSI mantra for quite a while ... that if Gentle Reader ever actually became a GM, he would find the free agent market sort of like trying to thread a needle with leather mittens on. There are only a very few options, and you gotta get your owner to sign off, and you gotta talk the agent into it, and by then your owner has changed his mind, and ... you might find that it boiled down real quick to Mark Trumbo vs. Brett Cecil. And that's as far as your options went.
Whereas! You might go to the DBacks and say, Hey, out of all 29 teams' trade bait, you got a player on the market who is just perfect... we'll give you Taijuan and Ketel, and then you let us pick any young player off this list of 20 who fits our roster...
Counterintuitive, but makes all kinds of sense. Also, most free agents on your list are OLDER than Mitch Haniger. Which Dipoto also emphasizes.
THEORY AND PRAXIS, Dept.
That said, how have Dipoto's trades actually gone. Huh? This Greg Johns article lists them all in order. What do we have, right now, that we could put our hands on? At what cost? Let's oversimplify, at the risk of actually understanding, though:
||Miller, SS (?)
|Ruiz & Gamel, C & RF
We sort of put them on 1st board, 2nd board, etc ... what's notable here: of the 7-8 biggest offloads, half were pitchers. Of Dipoto's main adds, all but KKKarns are batters. That's a roto-y approach. Get your predictable hitters and then throw spaghetti against the wall on the mound.
Whalen, Heston, Povse, Scribner
Alex Jackson, Tyler Pike, Taylor SS, Kivlehan
So ... would you deal Segura, Karns, Vogelbach and crew for Marte, Taijuan, Logo et al?
UND TAKE ZIS MIT YOU, Dept.
In Dipoto's first year, 2016, the M's did good but trades had little to do with it. He jettisoned Mark Trumbo for Steve Clevenger, who was worth less than a Tweet. (Well, maybe that's not saying much; the value of a Tweet has escalated from Steve Clevenger to $4.2 billion airplanes to, apparently, one Nuclear Winter to be named later.*)
The big contributors were the Stars of the payroll, along with internal solutions Diaz and Paxton and maybe Zunino. A free agent part-timer or two, mainly Cishek and Dae-Ho and Iannetta, caulked in some cracks. We are oversimplifying at the risk of actually understanding.
It hasn't started paying off yet, but there's no way I'm giving you back Segura & Karns & Valencia, and the sleeker, saber-y Big Three Prospects for a set of Zduriencikian wannabes.
* The poignant moment of the transition was the day that Twitter couldn't make the traveling squad on the tech giant roundtable. The typical CEO at Trump's tech meeting was head of a company worth $200-600 billion; Twitter's market capitalization is a feeble $11 billion. Also, Twitter's advertising waters are swirling down the tubes because of all their fake accounts.
It's got to hurt when the Twitter company is worth less than tomorrow morning's Tweet! LOL ;- )