SEATTLE – Seeking to improve their team's speed and the ability to run bases, the Mariners took a bold step in that direction on Thursday when general manager Jerry Dipoto acquired the two-time All-Star of the National League Dee Gordon of the Marlins and another $ 1 million in international slot money in exchange for pitching prospect Nick Neidert and two other minor leaguers. Seattle plans to play against Gordon, a second baseman who won a National League Gold Glove, in center field .
Neidert, 21, was the prospectus n. 2 of the Mariners by MLBPipeline .com. The infielder Chris Torres, his No. 7 prospect, and the right-hander Robert Dugger are also heading to Miami.
Neidert, 21, was the prospectus n. 2 of the Mariners by MLBPipeline .com. The infielder Chris Torres, his prospect number 7, and the right-hander Robert Dugger also head to Miami.
The additional international slots money could also help Seattle to go after Japan's Shohei Ohtani, who can only earn an MLB minimum wage of $ 545,000 next year, in addition to the available slots. The Mariners now have $ 3,557 million in slots money moving them slightly ahead of the $ 3,535 million Rangers among the remaining contenders.
But with or without Ohtani, Gordon brings an element of speed that Dipoto has been looking for.
Video: Gordon improves the Mariners' lineup, adds athletics
"We want to be more athletic, we want to be faster and more dynamic in the bases," Dipoto said. "Very few players on the planet are more dynamic on the bases than Dee Gordon."
Gordon stormed the Dodgers as a shortstop and played his first three seasons there, but switched to second base in 2014. He has started only two games at shortstop in the last four years. He played 13 games in the gardens for Licey in the Dominican Winter League in 2013-14, and nine of them were in the center.
That's the measure of Gordon's outfield professional experience, but a change from the middle of the box to the center field is not unknown, especially for players with elite speed. In recent years, both Billy Hamilton and Trea Turner – who were mainly shortstops in the minors – moved to the center in the majors, although Turner has moved back to shortstop due to the construction of the Nationals' payroll.
Video: Dee Gordon will play in the Mariners' center field
Gordon acknowledged that he was "shocked" to discover he would move to center field, but said he understands the movement and will do his best for the team. He said he was excited to hit Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz and that he has great respect for Cano's skills at second base.
"I'm not going to lie," Gordon said. "I worked very hard to be one of the best second basemen in baseball. But if it's someone I'd like to move, it's Robbie. Hitting in front of those guys is a dream. I know they're going to get their numbers, so I do not want to spoil it. "
Both Dipoto and Gordon said they expect the transition to be smooth.
" Just a little bit what I had in the Dominican Republic, "Gordon said of his previous outfield experience." I honestly played very well, just throwing it With some luck with some coaches of the Major League caliber, I'll be fine. I consider myself a fast learner and I want to help this team win "
Video: Dee Gordon talks about transition to center field
The Mariners put a great emphasis on defense in 2017, acquiring Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger after finishing 21st in the majors with -8 Outputs above the average (OAA) the previous year. Gardens in 2017, went up to fifth in the majors with +12 OAA, giving significant playtime to someone who never played before as a center in the majors could affect that improvement.
Although eclipsed by the talk that involved his teammate National League MVP Team Giancarlo Stanton Gordon has been the subject of the exchange rumors this offseason as the Marlins seek to eliminate the payroll.
Gordon is under contract for three more seasons for a combined total of $ 37.9 million, with $ 10.8 million next year and then $ 13.3 million in & # 39; 19 and $ 13.8 million in & # 39; 20. He also has a team option of $ 14 million for 2021 that is guaranteed if he accumulates 600 plate appearances in 2020 or 1,200 appearances on the plate in 2019-20.
Gordon certainly replaces the element of speed lost by the Mariners when Dyson became a free agent, and he is a much bigger offensive threat, having posted a cut line of .308 / .341 / .375 with 60 bases stolen and 3.1 bWAR last season.
The Mariners finished 2017 with three rookie gardeners at Haniger, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia . With Heredia rehabilitating from shoulder surgery this offseason, Gordon slides into midfield and allows Gamel and Heredia to split time in left field, with Haniger driving right field.
Gordon has led the Majors on stolen bases in three of the past four seasons , with a personal record of 64 in his senior year with the Dodgers in 2014, 58 in his first season with the Marlins in & # 39; and then last season when he had 60 of 76 attempted robberies in Miami.  The only time Gordon did not lead the league in stolen bases during that span was 2016, when he served an 80-game suspension for a failed drug test and played only 79 games, hitting .268 with 30 stolen bases.
Video: Must C Classic: Gordon hits 60 steals, 200 hits
The Florida native has a line of .293 / .329 / .367 in seven seasons. He led the Majors in success with 205 in 2015 for the Marlins, while he won the National League batting title at .333, his best mark of for life. Gordon was also the winner of the NL Gold Glove and winner of the Silver Slugger Award at the second base of that season, while winning his second full All-Star.
The exchange is the fifth designed by the always active Dipoto this offseason, and the 62nd place in the 27 months since he took over as general manager of Seattle. Last month he acquired 25-year-old slugger Ryon Healy from the A's to fill a gap at first base, sent a long-range prospect Thyago Vieira to the White Sox for $ 500,000 in international slots money to reinforce the team's bet by Ohtani, and landed the reliever Nick Rumbelow of the Yankees for a couple of minor leagues.
Video: MLB tonight: sailors add Dee, more money from slots
Dipoto also acquired another $ 1 million in international slots money on Wednesday from the Twins in exchange for the receiver minor leagues David Banuelos, who was the No. 10 prospect of the team.
Teams can only add up to 75 percent of their initial pool money, which in the case of Mariners means they are limited to a total of $ 4.37 million if they want to make more exchanges.
Video: Dipoto analyzes the international signature budget  Fantasy rotation | Fred Zinkie ( @FredZinkieMLB )
Moving to a contending Mariners club is likely to be a blessing for Gordon, who should be selected during the first rounds of & # 39; 18 rotational draws after hitting. 308 with 114 runs scored and a best 60 of the best leagues steals last year. Operating in an American League lineup for the first time and batting against players like Cano and Cruz, the sprinter could flirt with the 100-run plateau again while posting a full career RBI.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB .
This story was not subject to the approval of the Major Leagues or their clubs.