The Mariners announced several roster moves Friday, including reassigning star outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic to minor league camp. The decision means he won’t make the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. The team also reassigned fellow outfielder Julio Rodriguez and righties Brady Lail and Paul Sewald. Additionally, righty Ljay Newsome, lefty Aaron Fletcher and outfielder Braden Bishop were optioned.
This move is particularly notable in the wake of comments made by former Mariners CEO Kevin Mather, who resigned in February after suggesting the team would manipulate Kelenic’s service time. Mather made it clear that the Mariners would keep him out of the majors for the first month of the season in order to gain an extra year of team control.
“Probably Triple-A Tacoma for a month, and then he will likely be in left field at T-Mobile Park for the next six or seven years,” he said.
Kelenic went on to miss some time this spring with a Grade 2 knee strain, but he looked worthy of a major league roster spot upon his return. The 21-year-old came back to slash.333/.478/.778 with two home runs, albeit over just 18 at-bats. Kelenic has also been highly productive in the minors, where he most recently batted .253/.315/.542 with six homers during a 21-game, 92-PA Double-A debut in 2019. The former sixth overall pick – whom the Mariners acquired in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz blockbuster with the Mets in December 2018 – currently ranks as a consensus top prospect, with MLB.com placing him fourth overall. Rodriguez ranks fifth, though he’s not quite as close to the bigs as Kelenic.
With Kelenic out of the Opening Day picture, the Mariners could begin with Taylor Trammell as the starting left fielder alongside center fielder and reigning AL Rookie of the Kyle Lewis and right fielder Mitch Haniger. Jake Fraley and Jose Marmolejos are also outfield options on the 40-man roster.
Hosmer for HOF
He really did get crazy and was so wrong about how he should be in the majors. He has brief experience and success in the minors. Patience dude
Yeah, doesnt even have 100 PA’s above A-Ball yet. not everything is about service time.
True, but keep in mind that Juan Soto only played 8 games at AA before getting called up, and now is arguably the best offensive player in the NL. Kelenic could need some more time, but especially after what Mather said, it seems pretty obvious. He did have a 1.256 OPS this spring against (mostly) big league pitching, after all.
Juan Soto is an outlier. Saying that Soto did it isn’t really a good argument for other players to skip the upper minors.
While I’d say normally that’s fair, it can’t be held against players that there wasn’t a minor league season in 2020. Kelenic likely would have played AAA in 2020, and most would be willing to bet he would have excelled. I understand whatever training he had in 2020 isn’t the same as live competitive games and pitching, but to assume there wasn’t any development either is unrealistic. He’s a top talent, and if there was a 2020 minor league season, he’d likely have forced his case for this year in MLB.
it is also possible during live play he gets hurt for the season and has no development at all.
its also possible that in AAA that he pushes too hard to make his way to the majors and ends up playing poorly and stunts his confidence or develops the yips and drops like a bad habit becoming a “late bloomer”
the mariners do him like clint frazier with the ups and downs and absolutely ruins him for years.
there are millions and millions of possibilities also i cant remember the last person that spoke how well they did against simulators and in simulated games unless you doing the madden challenge.
Big League pitching in ST?
Those pitchers (and position players) are primarily rounding into shape, and trying different things. Only in their final outings do they get serious.
Stats in ST mean absolutely nothing.
Yes, but would a month of AAA really make that much of a difference?
This is true.
Kelenic is a far better talent than Frazier. He’ll be back to stay soon.
It actually looks like Seattle currently has a starting OF, and sitting on the bench seldom helps development.
Player wise: You are seeing more pitchers who are more refined, you can workout any ‘kinks’ without the pressure of MLB.
Org wise: pure monetary.
I hope this loophole gets addressed in the next CBA. Perhaps by making that extra year an option, muta or player.
Point is, though, Trammell is not better than Kelenic. He will probably sit the bench when Kelenic arrives in a month.
AAA isn’t starting up for another month. Being a 4th OF on the big league team is at least better than minors camp for development.
Here’s where I think differently… the Mariners are not contenders. If service time was not a factor. It would make sense to offer him the best development, which he could find at the major league level. They don’t have to make decisions that factor in winning and losing. Service time definitely plays a part in the decision.
You might be surprised. I think the Mariners are contenders. They have a good rotation.
The whole story is Mather offered the same type of deal as Evan White, and wouldn’t you know, White is here.
Kelenic wouldn’t sign, even though it was understood that he would be up.
Luckily for the Mariners Kelenic got hurt so they had a built in excuse.
Players have to fix that, maybe 3 years of team control, not more than 5.
White also had nearly 200 games played at AA.
Not true in regards to him being in the roster as a guarantee. Of course you’ve hated this regime since day one and insisted they misused Walker the first time he was here.
This KID HASN’T PLAYED A GAME IN MLB & PEOPLE HAVE A WING IN HOF FOR HOM ALREADY LOL .. I Have a friend who harps on that deal all the time & I say Lastings Milledge, Alex Ochoa, Fernando Martinez
Their former GM publicly discussed delaying his service time. He definitely has a gripe.
Untrue. It was not the GM or anyone that was in player development. Stop with the false narrative
My bad, it was their CEO. Which makes it even worse.
He’s absolutely going to win his inevitable grievance.
I’ll take that bet. $100.
I’ll take it and give him 10-1 odds.
He has 92 plate appearaces above A-Ball. Not every prospect is going to skip the upper minors.
And he didn’t even excel in his brief stint at AA the way you would want a top prospect to
If Kris Bryant didn’t win a grievance no one will.
He may have before he got hurt, not with the injury though.
Zero chance he would win a grievance
It didn’t get any more obvious than Bryant…how’d that go?
I think that has much to do with the fact the cubs front office stood by the “he needs to work on his defense” lie in public, the M’s old president literally said he would be in AAA for a month which really exposes their intentions to mess with his service time.
If the posters on here knew 1/100th as much about how baseball is played on the field as they do about politicking over perceived baseball social injustice, it would be a much more fun and educational place to visit.
It’s like college – if you aren’t learning a skill, take a bunch of political courses. Then when someone hires you, do everything to disrupt their operation…..until they find a reason to let you go……then go to work for a politician…..that doesn’t have to concern him/herself with producing anything tangible….just with getting re-elected…..or elected to another office.
Samual: I don’t ever agree with you. And although you’ve said your usual nothing, while also saying a lot of words, I actually agree with the point you’re trying to make here –
Kalenic is not legally entitled to a ML roster position, thus he will not get one. The fact that it doesn’t look pretty and hurts feelings doesn’t matter, regardless of how much signaling anyone does, or how many times they say, “He wins this, you watch.”
Name the last player to win a grievance about mlb service time manipulation?
That’s the way the game is played. The Ms are better off with him playing 7 years than 6.
And not only that, the MLBPA has failed to address it in a meaningful way. Want to point fingers? Start with your union.
Exactly. Get better lawyers or shut up.
You are right about the Union dropping the ball.
Dump current leadership and get someone who has zero baseball experience.
This has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with business.
Depends on if the M’s ONLY want him for 6 or 7 years. How an organization treats its players certainly affects extension talks. The M’s don’t view Kelenic as a good player, but as a cornerstone.
It’s usually all about the money. Kris Bryant is more than willing to sign an extension with the Cubs, so apparently he’s gotten over his situation. I don’t think this has much of an effect, if any, on Kelenic’s decision to re-sign or not in 7 years.
“It was literally like someone farted in church,”
Kelenic has played 21 games above A ball. It makes complete sense to get him at-bats in the upper minors before having him make his debut
bingo. though i will say he did well in camp, so he may not need to be down long.
Sometime earlier today- Jerry Dipoto says: “Jarred, I know YOU think you’re ready for MLB. We also think you’re ready for MLB, you’re certainly our best option at LF right now but I have to send you down to Minor League Camp for 3 weeks. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. Your Union didn’t do you any favors there. About Camp though- it’s only temporary because I’ll have you up in Seattle playing LF in just 3 weeks from tomorrow. You have my word Jarred, April 17 2021, you will remember that date for the rest of your life because it will be your big league debut.”
I wouldn’t bet on an April debut.
They can’t argue he isn’t ready, then promote him before ever having a AAA PA. It would make the eventual grievance stronger and potentially backfire on Seattle in the worst possible way. It wouldn’t just affect Kelenic’s standing with the organization, either. It would affect other top prospects as well. Who would want to sign an extension after that? Who would want to sign with Seattle if they believed Seattle truly doesn’t operate in good faith?
Way too much risk. June or July seems more likely, assuming he hits in AAA. Jarred himself said that the plan now was to get him PAs and that they were on the same page in that regard. Keep in mind, he wasn’t playing in consecutive games, or even completing the games he did play in, upon his return from the injury. Part of this is about caution, however small it may be.
If there is an injury he’ll be up.
If an injury occurs before he gets 100-200 AAA PAs? Doubt it.
They still have Bishop on the 40.
Lou Evil Slugger
I could see it being the second half of the season. Assuming the OF is Trammel, Lewis and Haniger and if he’s productive and healthy Haniger will likely be traded. That would open up a spot for Kelenic and by waiting it would look better against the service time argument since everyone is watching.
Slugger, he’s def going to be up before the AS Break. Trust me- If you saw his AB’s over Spring he’s already the teams best option at LF, by a mile. He’s not overmatched at the plate, he has a mature sense of the K-zone making the pitchers work, he’s already showing us that he’ll be a high OBP guy. Like Griffey Jr he has a knack for doing something positive in each game he plays whether that’s a defensive gem, a SB, a BB or bringing in a Run.
Stevil- you’re making sensible points in your argument for him to be promoted later in the year but I still feel like you’ll see him in April. For what it’s worth, Corey Brock- the Mariners beat writer for the Athletic just mentioned Kelenic will be be up in the latter half of April in his Monday morning article on Kyle Lewis’s injury.
The thing about the grievance and service time issue in general is that definition/length of service time will probably change at the next CBA discussions. Re: the Org arguing he’s not ready, Kelenic just needs a week or two of AB’s in Minor League ST camp to give the Org a valid excuse to say he’s ready to face MLB pitching. They know the fan base is eager to see Kelenic, especially if it’s after 4/16 and surely Kelenic and his agent would’ve already have been told he’d come up in 3 weeks- extending an olive branch after the Mather mess.
He didn’t play consecutive games upon his return simply because this Org is very conservative in handling minor injuries. Kelenic was on a pace to play more frequently than Mitch Haniger. If he wasn’t out of the lineup for roughly 2 weeks he would’ve had more PA’s than JRod, Haniger and Crawford. Finishing somewhere in the 40 AB range- a similar number of PA’s to the majority of the M’s starters near his place in the lineup.
We saw in his limited AB’s this Spring that he is not intimidated at the plate, has a really good eye for the K-zone already and he doesn’t get fooled as easily as most of the young M’s hitters in our lineup. Imo he already looks like a player who will walk into our lineup and have the 2nd or 3rd highest OBA. This team needs more players with a high OBP. For what it’s worth he had a .440 OBP in his (SSS) of 25 PA’s of this years Cactus League games.
To be fair, I do believe they said it was over the course of 18 at-bats. Definition of small sample size.
Bloviating Borass and the service time crusaders are warming up their vocal cords and setting up their soapbox
I guess you beat them to the punch?
As well they should, as well they should.
Siding with Borass? great company, or I guess you should just be the M’s GM?
Wow surprised Newsome was sent down.
I’m sure he’s on speed-dial if Dunn or Marge don’t start the season well.
Why? He’s like the 9th option start behind the six on the roster, whomever is left out of Marge/Dunn, and Gilbert
presuming Marco, Justus, Paxton, Kikuchi, and Dunn were locks, how crazy is it to say Newsome is the next best option. I dont think anyone besides him Marge and Flexen were realistic OD options for the spot and its not hard to say he’s better now/has a higher upside then the other two.
He is the 9th option and clearly behind Flexen, who is ahead of Dunn, and Margevicious. Maybe he’d get called up before Gilbert early in the year but that still makes him 8th at best. As for as upside, not much there. His ceiling is a backend starter
It was somewhat inevitable that Kelenic would get sent down, but I’m surprised that Bishop was sent down as well.
You’re surprised Bishop was sent down? Guy can’t hit and is like the 6th option as the third outfielder. He’s definitely behind Fraley, Trammell, Haggerty, Marmolejos (yuck)and Kelenic.
Before spring, a roster spot was probably his to lose. He offers elite defense, he’s 28, and had been tinkering with his swing and approach long enough that they probably wanted to see if he could hold his own. I personally wanted to see both Bishop and Fraley start the season in AAA, but I perfectly understood the argument to let him sink or swim.
He simply didn’t impress at any point in spring. Fraley, to his credit, ended up finishing spring as one of Seattle’s best hitters. He had started off 0-17 and looked lost, but he got it together quickly and now might be the opening day left fielder.
He should file grievance now
Based on what? Comments made by a fired employee that didn’t even know details about players he talked about? Based on the less than 100 plate appearances above A ball? The 10 days he missed in camp? The fact that no rules were broken even if he didn’t have all of the above?
He’s not entitled, nor will he ever be, to MLB play. It’s the organization’s determination who is ready and when. Nobody is ever going to tell an organization, “Kalenic’s service time was manipulated so he’s starting on your MLB roster.” The resulting impact of cascading events that follow could have deleterious effects on the league.
Kalenic is where he should be and where he will be until the org deems otherwise. The union will not change that. It’s a clear management right, which is why the contract doesn’t address it.
You can’t file a grievance before joining the union, and you don’t become a member of the union until you’re promoted to the majors.
Him and Julio look like studs. Maybe he is ready, send him to AAA and let’s find out. Team has to keep that service time down. M’s have a bright future. Thank you stupid run teams for overpaying for their trade chips.
yep. if he’s so ready, prove it. he didnt exactly look otherworldly in his first taste of AA in 2019 so its very possible he needs more minors time.
I think everyone is missing that there’s people ahead of Kelenic in their development that Seattle needs to see first. Haniger and Lewis are already starters. Trammell and Fraley are ahead of Kelenic. It’s not like there are infinite roster spots. If trammell or Fraley struggle or there’s an injury, boom Kelenic has his opportunity. Outside of one of those things happening he’s going to have to wait his turn.
Trammell and Fraley ahead of Kelenic how? It’s not get in line and wait your turn. Field the best team. A month from now Kelenic will be starting and Trammell will be sitting.
It’s obviously all about service time but Mariners FO can do what they want.
Fraley has been beating his head against the aaa ceiling and was notably the best player at the alternate training site last year(better than kelenic). In my opinion he needs the first crack at mlb at bats this year to see if he’s going to be a valuable peice moving forward.
Trammell killed it all spring and has a full season at AA under his belt.
You have to give all of these guys playing time somehow so its logical you keep the youngest least experienced one in AAA. If say Fraley and Trammell both do well all of a sudden you can trade from your surplus of plus outfielders to get players that will do well at different positions(or teach Fraley to use a 1b glove). That is how you improve the team long term. If you never give Fraley and Trammell the chance by skipping Kelenic past them then their trade value stays suppressed.
Also you have to figure out Fraley and Trammell right now because Julio is coming like a freight train. This guy absolutely rakes.
Those guys are ahead on paper, but in reality? I think there’s a strong argument that Kelenic is better than Trammell and Fraley right now. But you’re right about the value of roster spots. They’ll move Giles to the 60 any day now and Steckenrider will likely take his place.
The next casualty isn’t perfectly clear. They like Tapia and Sadler, and Vest isn’t likely going to be returned. Marmolejos will have to prove he can hit breaking balls, so he might be the odd man out once they promote Kelenic. But then there’s Gilbert, who will likely debut before Kelenic.
Tough decisions ahead. It’s understandable that they would want to take a look at these guys on the bubble before DFAing them and potentially losing them.
I get the whole service time controversy and everything that goes along with the comments that were made this offseason and what not. But at the same time, he is only 21 years old and hasn’t even played above the AA level. Could he be ML ready now? Sure… but starting him our in AAA to begin the season is totally justifiable… service time manipulation or not… the whole system needs to be fixed… but until that happens teams shouldn’t be so aggressively demonized for doing what’s blatantly in the best interest of the team and whats completely justifiable based on lack of high minors experience.
Watch him play. He’s obviously ML ready.
Based on 23 plate appearances? Not a chance you can come to that determination.
in Spring Training no less
No surprise considering the Mariner’s are a long shot for a post season spot and he’s not really ready yet.
Business decision. Would be totally insane to start him on the roster. So you can sit Trammell? Or give him a month off the roster, and gain a year when it counts.
Kelenic can file this and remember it when he signs that next contract.
Wishful thinking from a bitter Mets fan(as if there is any other kind).
A similar situation is happening in Detroit, which has a much weaker OF. Riley Greene had a good showing in Spring Training, but got sent down. No big thing. No huge long list of comments. Baddoo had an even more exciting spring than Kelenic, but is not even in consideration for a starting job, and is making the team only because he is rule 5. Rushing players does not help development, even when there actually are openings for playing time.
Baseball is a business, not a charity. There’s every incentive, business-wise, for teams to do this. Setting a maximum time on team control from when an amateur signs with a team, say 8 years, at which point they become a free agent no matter their MLB experience would be a better system. Arbitration could remain the same at years 6, 7, and 8.
No option will be perfect. No matter what’s decided, all options will benefit some players at the expense of others.
And of course, regardless of the rules and negotiated agreements, there will be well-educated teams of humans looking for every possible way to squeeze every possible business advantage from the agreement. As Scrap1ron stated, it’s a business, and that’s how business works.
Where life and business get weird… This is a situation where the worst thing that could happen to Seattle, PR wise (obviously not from a performance point of view) is if Kelenic absolutely KILLS it his first month in AAA…
Do the Mariners want him to play well in the minors? Of course. Do they want him to play really really REALLY well? Um… yeah… sure!
Fans who want to get rid of or shorten the service time rule are obviously fans of big market teams. If you shorten or get rid of this rule you might as well contract the league down to 16 teams because small market teams will essentially be feeder teams.
“I’m a competitor, and I want to help this team win as soon as possible,” Kelenic said. “But I understand where they’re coming from, and all I can do right now is focus on what I need to focus [on] and get there as soon as possible.”
This exact move was predicted by a prescient former Mariners exec!
Over-under on when Kelenic debuts? Let’s say he is assigned to AAA. I’ll go with about a month there, and say mid-May when he is called up. I don’t believe it will be long before he’s in the bigs.
I have always posted Kelenic will play RF. I still stand by that but will have to wait until Haniger is traded. Anyone have another reason to leave him there? You have to wonder how good of a player will Haniger and Trammel bring? Do you bundle them and do a 3 team trade? Maybe do an upgrade at third after Seager is gone? Any thoughts on him in LF? If Kyle has a good start to the season do you trade him hold him till finish the contract or what?
He needs to be at AAA. If you send guys up too soon, it often ruins them. This has nothing to do with the former Mariner’s exec, or what he said. He needs more time before MLB.
I got to watch him play on Thursday against the A’s He looked kind of lost at the plate but he played well on defense. I thought he needed a little more development at the plate, but that he would probably be up soon and showing what he could do to everyone in the bigs. He’s definitely got the talent.