It's odd that the executive in charge of a team who knows the most about the Red Sox might work for the Mariners, but a series of exits and introductions this summer made that the case. Ben Cherington left the Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski stepped in as the President of Baseball Operations after the Tigers let him go, and Dipoto skipped from the Angels to the Sox and then to his current gig as the boss of the Mariners' front office.
Nick Cafardo wonders, fairly, if there is a trade to be made between the Sox and Mariners this winter, given Dipoto's relatively intimate knowledge of Boston's organization. In case you missed out on why Dipoto would know so much, here's a recap.
Dipoto left the Angels and his role as general manager there this past July, after a dispute with ownership over authority and manager Mike Scioscia. The Red Sox invited him back to his former team, and set him to work evaluating the organization from top to bottom to get an outsider's perspective on the work that needed to be done in revamping the big-league roster. While Cherington, the one who set Dipoto to work in the first place, wasn't around to reap the benefits of this research after his own resignation, Dombrowski, as a newcomer to the team himself, found Dipoto's thorough report useful.
So, you've got a team in the Mariners that is likely trying to build for the present and future, and their general manager knows just where he could find some prospects to help him do so. The question is whether Dipoto has anything to offer the Red Sox for their kids: Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager are building blocks that are not and should not be going anywhere. Robinson Cano is unlikely to be moved and makes no sense for Boston, anyway, with Dustin Pedroia around long-term. Pitchers like James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are intriguing, but the Mariners need their young pitchers around, and Boston has their own to sift through already. The last guaranteed year of Seth Smith's deal would be a useful fit for the Sox, who in spite of potential still have questions to answer in their own outfield, but the Mariners can use him and don't need to be in a rush to move him, either.
Pablo Sandoval's declining plate discipline
Pablo Sandoval was bad in every aspect of the game last year, but there was one particular aspect of his plate discipline numbers that were concerning.
Maybe the Mariners have a bullpen arm to move to the Sox, though, in exchange for a minor leaguer or two. Seattle has larger problems than their bullpen to fix, and are in a situation where it might be worth it to take a step back so that much larger steps forward are possible sooner. Adding a couple of intriguing kids to the mix in exchange for a promising bullpen arm would help solve some problems for both sides. Carson Smith sticks out the most, but he could also be the Mariners' closer both now and in the future, so Dipoto isn't going to just give away the 26-year-old strikeout machine: he's the kind of player who can still be around and productive the next time the Mariners are great.
Maybe looking young isn't the way to go, and it's Tom Wilhelmsen the Sox should try acquiring. He'll be 32 in 2016, but he also won't be a free agent until after 2017, and he's been a quality reliever for all but one of his five years in the bigs. He's effective against both right- and left-handed batters, he has some experience as a closer -- he's the kind of guy Dipoto would probably give up for the right return with an eye toward the future. He's also a guy the Sox could use in their pen, one in need of some stabilizing.
Regardless of the who, it's pretty clear that the what would be something small. That means Dipoto would likely take back some prospects who are intriguing that he took a personal liking to, but not the kind that the Red Sox or their fans would necessarily miss given what they would still have and what they got back. So, maybe there is nothing here, but Dipoto's knowledge of the Boston system is at least something to remember this winter, when the rumors eventually do start pouring out.