Mariners give GM Jerry Dipoto multiyear contract extension

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto talks about the suspension of second baseman Robinson Cano, before the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Seattle. Cano was suspended 80 games for violating baseball's joint drug agreement. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle Mariners signed general manager Jerry Dipoto to a multiyear contract extension on Friday, a reward for the club being on track to end the longest playoff drought in the four major professional sports in the U.S.

The agreement comes with the Mariners 24 games above .500, and striving to make the postseason for the first time since 2001.

”We’re obviously happy with the work he’s done so far and look forward to the next several years as well,” team president and CEO Kevin Mather said. ”We are having some success on the field, but when I said the work he has done so far, I’m referring to day one. We hired him Sept. 28, 2015 and he hasn’t stopped since the day he got here.”

Since the start of the 2016 season, Dipoto’s first full year, the Mariners have the eighth-best record in the majors at 220-192. Seattle’s 56-32 start through 88 games is tied for the second-best mark in franchise history. Only the 2001 team that tied the major league mark for most wins in a season with 116 victories surpassed the start of the 2018 Mariners.

”This is a no-brainer for me,” Dipoto said. ”I told you all when I got here that this was a dream job for me. It’s a great market in a city that is starved to win, with an opportunity to be creative.”

While there are still issues in the farm system, Dipoto has succeeded in making the major league product better. He has turned over a roster that had gotten old and added key younger pieces like Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura and Dee Gordon, who are major contributors in Seattle’s start to this season.

Dipoto also has locked up key parts of Seattle’s core for the next several seasons, either through club control through arbitration or long-term extensions. Seattle’s current starting rotation is under contract through the 2019 season and the only everyday player without club control beyond this season is designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

When Dipoto took over in 2015, the Mariners were looking for stability after a tough finish to Jack Zduriencik’s tenure with the club. Dipoto himself was trying to rebuild his own career after a less than amicable departure from the Los Angeles Angels amid conflict with manager Mike Scioscia.

Dipoto made numerous moves in his first year with Seattle, starting the roster churn that added more youth to the club. Seattle won 86 games in 2016 before backsliding to 78-84 last year amid numerous injuries to the pitching staff.

Seattle was thought to be a fringe playoff contender this year but is in the thick of the hunt nearing the All-Star break.

”My time here – the 2 1/2 years – has, I think, gone just as well as I hoped it could go, provided we finish strong,” Dipoto said.

”It takes a village to build a baseball organization, and we’ve got a pretty good village. This is a new day to move forward. The Mariners are playing very well. I’m thrilled for this group, but I’m more thrilled that this group has an opportunity to continue to do what they’re doing.”

With Dipoto locked up, the focus turns to manager Scott Servais, whose contract is up at the end of the 2018 season.

”Scott has been my partner for far longer than we’ve been here,” Dipoto said. ”Whether it be dreaming about what we wanted to create as a franchise, whether it be in player development and what we are doing in scouting, or now culminating with how to build a major league roster and how to guide it, I don’t envision a time where I’m doing my job without him doing his job.”

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