LAS VEGAS — Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais hopes his team can find success rebuilding with youth much the way the AL West rival Oakland Athletics have done.
A flurry of offseason trades by general manager Jerry Dipoto sent lots of stars out of the Pacific Northwest in the past month.
“We’ve made a few changes, but we had to make a decision organizationally where we were at,” Servais said Tuesday at the winter meetings. “We weren’t quite good enough to get into the playoffs the last three years even though we won a lot of ballgames. So maybe taking a step back, a little bit younger, readjust the core and see where that takes us.”
Gone is the core of Seattle’s roster: ace James Paxton, All-Star closer Edwin Diaz, along with infielders Robinson Cano and Jean Segura. Catcher Mike Zunino, right-hander Juan Nicasio, outfielder Guillermo Heredia and lefty setup man James Pazos, too.
“The James Paxtons and the Mike Zuninos. Then certainly Robbie and Jean, what can you say about Eddie Diaz?” Servais said. “It’s a long list of really star-studded players we’ve let go. But at the end of the day it wasn’t quite good enough to get us over the hump. And the goal is to get in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
Cano and Diaz joined the Mets, while Paxton will now wear Yankee pinstripes in the Bronx.
Seattle made six trades in all, with the most high-profile players acquired being Jay Bruce and Carlos Santana, who might still be traded away.
Mariners fans might understandably be a little apprehensive about the transformation after an 89-73 season that failed to end a nearly two-decade playoff drought — they were third in the AL West and missed the playoffs for a 17th straight season.
Oakland, and even 2017 World Series champion Houston, provide examples of how winning turnarounds can happen.
The 97-win A’s returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 before losing to the Yankees in the wild-card game.
“Yeah, it’s crazy. A year ago, I don’t think a lot of people at these meetings thought Oakland was going to win 97 games,” Servais said. “And then they had a phenomenal season. Again, it takes time. You’ve got to be patient with young players. We’re trying to acquire a few, and hopefully it works out.”