The late Wednesday acquisition of right-hander Chris Heston from San Francisco reaffirmed the always-tinkering approach the Mariners now exhibit under general manager Jerry Dipoto.
"You’re always looking to get better," Dipoto said. "For as long as I’m here, you’ll see the depth moves will be constant. We’ll always do things like that."
Heston is the 14th new addition to the Mariners’ 40-man roster since their season ended. He is also the sort of low-risk bet on a bounce-back player that has become an organizational staple under Dipoto.
While Heston, 28, missed much of last season due to an oblique injury, he was 12-11 with a 3.95 ERA for the Giants over 31 starts in 2015.
Heston also comes at low cost; he is not yet eligible for arbitration, which should keep his salary next season under $600,000. Plus, he has one option remaining, which checks the box on another of Dipoto’s prized qualities: flexibility.
What Heston doesn’t do is answer the club’s desire to acquire a reliable veteran pitcher for their rotation. Heston is organizational depth; Dipoto confirmed the Mariners are still looking for more of a sure thing.
"The rotation is something we will address in some form," he said. "Whether that’s now or in January or as we get closer to spring training, I don’t know. Our intention is to focus on trades first and use free agency as a backup."
The Mariners were linked to several trade candidates over the four days that comprised the Winter Meetings, which concluded Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just south of Washington, D.C.
***Left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Brandon McCarthy of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both are coming off injury-interrupted seasons and sport significant guaranteed salaries over the next two years.
Kazmir is owed $32 million, and McCarthy is owed $20 million. Any deal is likely to hinge on the Dodgers’ willingness to eat at least a portion of those salaries.
***Left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-hander Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. The Mariners appear to prefer Pomeranz, who might not be available. Boston is eager to unload Buchholz, who is owed $13.5 million for 2017.
***Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who is also coming off an oblique injury that limited him last season to 20 starts. He is just 26 and isn’t yet eligible for arbitration.
The Reds are seeking bullpen help, and the Mariners have 14 full-time relievers (and at least two swingman candidates) on their 40-man roster because of their ongoing depth-building efforts.
"We do like the depth that we’ve created in our total pitching staff," Dipoto said. "We’ve probably got 15 guys in the mix in the bullpen."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners