- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - When Jerry Dipoto took charge of the Seattle Mariners he arrived with a list of tasks to complete and a rough timeline for getting them done.

Get his support staff in place, decide on his field manager and then be aggressive and active in overhauling a roster that needed changes.

“Yeah, I can get a little hyper-focused,” Dipoto said.

No kidding. When Dipoto and the Mariners get to the baseball winter meetings in Nashville next week, they’ll arrive as the most active team in baseball since the end of the regular season.

The big names might be missing from Seattle’s transactions list, but it’s a ledger of additions, subtractions and alterations to the Mariners roster that’s even exceeded some of Dipoto’s expectations.

“We’ve done a lot of roster reshaping if that makes any sense and we didn’t go in to the garden with a spade. We kind of went in with a backhoe,” Dipoto said after Seattle announced the signing of free agent outfielder Nori Aoki this week. “And I think we’ve effectively restructured the way our offense moves and the way our defense is positioned.”

It’s been non-stop for Dipoto since Nov. 5, when his flurry of activity began with a six-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Five additional trades and four free agent signings later and the Mariners have a completely different look from a season ago.

Aside from Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez, lineup cards will be needed to keep track of the new additions.

All this activity happened in the span of one month. And the first pitch of the 2016 regular season is still four months away, giving Dipoto plenty of time to tinker.

“They are the core of our club, they’re signed long term, and they are celebrated elite all-star level players and that is the group we are building around,” Dipoto said of Seattle’s group of All-Stars. “What we’ve been trying to do today, and I think we’re doing it effectively, is we’re raising the floor around them so that we have the ability to go out and stretch that lineup, make it deeper.”

Without ever making a public statement, Dipoto has clearly shown where he saw fault with the way that the Mariners had been constructed. The idea of power and playing static positions has been replaced by the priorities of athleticism and versatility. Seattle doesn’t intend on being a big spender in free agency, but the additions made already far outweigh any one big signing the club could have made.

The outfield was Dipoto’s top priority - trying to put together a collection of players who fit within the vast expanses of Safeco Field. Aoki and Leonys Martin will join with Franklin Gutierrez, Seth Smith and Cruz in a five-man rotation among all three outfield positions.

Dipoto also created depth at catcher with the acquisitions of Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger to give former No. 3-overall pick Mike Zunino time in the minors to figure out his swing issues. First base was sacrificed after the trade of Mark Trumbo earlier this week.

The one area where Dipoto acknowledges Seattle may have to get aggressive is starting pitching. If Seattle can persuade Hisashi Iwakuma to return, then its starting pitching quandary is mostly solved, even if the Mariners would then have a right-hand heavy rotation. But if Iwakuma decides to go elsewhere, then adding a proven starter to the rotation becomes the top priority.

“There is a lot of offseason left,” Dipoto said. “The league, the industry, the market is going to define our timing on this.”

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