Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic made his Triple-A debut last night and did little to quell the growing fan clamor for his promotion. The 2018 No. 6 overall pick and centerpiece of the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano blockbuster ripped a pair of home runs to right field in his first minor league game since Sept. 2, 2019. (You can watch both blasts at these Twitter links, courtesy of MLB Pipeline and MiLB Mariners.)
The multi-homer showing came just hours after MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that Kelenic was “likely” to debut this month — a timeline most already expected — which prompted some comments from Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto in a radio appearance on 710 ESPN (link via 710’s Brandon Gustafson).
Dipoto acknowledged that Kelenic is getting “closer and closer” to the big leagues and that a promotion will come “sooner than later.” He made clear that the organization wanted to see him get some work against Triple-A pitching. There’s surely some truth to that, because if service time were the only issue, Kelenic could’ve been called up more than two weeks ago. But with the Mariners slumping as a team, even before being no-hit by Orioles lefty John Means, the GM also noted that Kelenic “might add a spark to our offense if we give him that opportunity.”
Dipoto has spoken in the past about the importance of taking 30 to 40 games to evaluate the club with which they broke camp, and we’re now into that territory with generally lackluster results from the offense. Fellow top outfield prospect Taylor Trammell is hitting just .156/.261/.338 with a 43.8 percent strikeout rate. Neither Jose Marmolejos or Sam Haggerty has hit especially well during their time in left field; Mariners left fielders are hitting just .204/.316/.357 on the whole.
The Mariners have gotten a nice bounceback effort from Mitch Haniger in right field, as he’s returned from injury to bat .254/.300/.534 in his first 130 plate appearances. Kyle Lewis missed the first several weeks of the year on the injured list and has struggled to a .181/.231/.388 slash. That’s not a pretty result, but it’s only 52 plate appearances and as the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, he has a longer leash than others might.
There’s no denying that left field has been a black hole on an already sub-par offensive club, however. And with Haniger, Ty France and Kyle Seager all slowing down to varying extents after hot starts to the season, the Mariners’ offense looks increasingly lifeless. As a team, the Mariners are batting only .201/.280/.359. They rank last in the Majors in average, 29th in OBP and 26th in slugging percentage.
Despite the putrid offensive showing, though, the pitching and good timing on some of the few hits the Mariners have put together has helped them to a 17-15 record. That they’re currently sitting in second place only serves to create additional temptation to take a look at Kelenic, who currently ranks as the game’s No. 4 overall prospect at Baseball America, FanGraphs and MLB.com. Plugging Kelenic into everyday at-bats in left field isn’t going to be a panacea for the team’s overarching offensive futility, even if he immediately meets expectations, but it’d be a step in the right direction.
Regaedless of when Kelenic debuts this year, the Mariners will be able to control him all the way through the 2027 season. A May promotion would put him on track to earn Super Two status, making him arbitration-eligible four times rather than the standard three, but his path to free agency has already been delayed.
Of course, his timeline to arbitration and to free agency could ultimately be rendered moot if the two sides eventually do come to terms on a long-term contract. Now-former Mariners president shined a spotlight on Kelenic by revealing earlier this year that he’d turned down a contract extension and would open the year in the minors. That comment prompted Kelenic and agent Brodie Scoffield to tell USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the club had made clear to him that Kelenic would’ve been in the Majors last year had he taken the extension offer prior to the 2020 season. Many assumed that may have led to some burned bridges or harsh feelings, but Scoffield told MLBTR in the wake of that interview that Kelenic remained open to future proposals.
For now, the focus is on when Kelenic debuts in the Majors. If he meets or exceeds expectations at the big league level, however, it’d be a surprise if the team didn’t make another run at putting together an offer.
Lee Mazzilli for HOF
Do other Mets fans just hate seeing his name. Well at least we got Diaz.
Just remember BVW was hamstrung by payroll issues and tried to hit the jackpot with an outside of the box trade but came up all lemons. Another way to view it is he shot craps and crapped out.
But if payroll was the issue why take on cano’s 24 million per year.
Smoke & WILPON Mirrors…
Most of it was a wash the 1st season with the contracts they dumped in the deal; They also were getting some small amount of $$$ Back … THEY KNEW THEY WERE GOING TO SELL
Absolutely, they HAD to sell with big loans due. Again, BVD had no $$ so he tried to excite the fans immediately being creative and got burned.
Gotta live with it. Wish him the absolute best and hope one day we might see him in orange and blue.
Thanks a lot Brodie! You couldn’t have done more damage if you had tried.
Nope, he is still just a prospect. Ask in 5 years and the answer may be different.
Lee Mazzilli for HOF
Gave dunn too. Still at the time a decent pitching prospect. To give all that and take on cano salray made no sense. Trade was horrible day it was made. At least ryan trade took a few years.
Díaz was the primary target, with a gamble being taken on Cano. They took a risk thinking they were building a winning team. Now we know it was a failed experiment but worth the try given the payroll and roster constraints. Only time will tell how those PROSPECTS pan out for the Mariners
It’s time for rule changes. Real and serious changes to the rules so that teams can’t manipulate service time. It’s ridiculous. Now I don’t think that’s happening with Kelenic but it clearly does happen with the Mariners organization that blowhard admitted it. Just fix it. No more excuses. If there is enough money in the game to pay players 30 million plus a year then there is ABSOLUTELY a way to fix this.
I agree whole heartedly and hope it’s addressed in the next CBA. How salaries and service time is set up now doesn’t make sense and ruins the on field product.
MLB needs to skew younger and more exciting and getting rid of the clubs incentive to keep players in the minors would help address that.
Ideally the change should be that the 6 years of control begins as soon as the player begins his minor league career. That way teams will be more inclined to bring players up since they would actually be wasting control by leaving them in the minors for too long.
Just remember there are so many slots. Others got shots before him. Players know the rules when they sign on If they could get more elsewhere they would. it’s a privilege not a right to play baseball for a living.
Give me an example of the Mariners manipulating service time. They certainly didn’t do it with Lewis, Sheffield, Dunn, FraLey, or Trammell. The only two left are Kelenic and Gilbert, neither of whom had played above AA ball.
It’s not about an example with the Mariners. That executive guy whatever his name was admitted the organization does it. He admitted it so you don’t need examples.
And what rules have the Mariners broken by “manipulating” Kelenic’s service time? They’re following collectively bargained, agreed-to guidelines. See Bryant, Kris.
I agree on one level since it makes the game more interesting. I want to see exciting players break camp with their teams instead of waiting a few weeks or even a few months into the season.
That said, this was a collectively bargained “problem.” I blame the MLBPA not MLB. Front offices don’t view it as service time manipulation. They view it as service time maximization. Nothing wrong at all from their side. It’s up to the MLBPA to come to the negotiating table with a solution. Easier said than done since they’re going to have to give something too. That’s what negotiating is about.
In the case of Kelenic, I don’t see service time manipulation at all. The Mariners last year were trying to buy favor with Kelenic to get him to agree to a MLB contract that could significantly underpay him with the promise he’d be instantly called up if only he signed the contract. Thats not service time manipulation. Fact is, Kelenic had only a few at bats in AA in 2019 and there was no minor league season in 2020. There is a strong argument to get him some ABs in AAA. Is there a downside to rushing a prospect by giving him a MLB contract early? I don’t know. Ask Evan White.
It’s not about negotiations and all that. It’s about what’s right. It’s that attitude that’s led to the problems that got us here in the first place. Just do what’s right. Take action so no team can do what that Mariners executive said they do and what other teams do all the time. To say it’s about negotiating is missing the point entirely.
It’s not about negotiations and all that. It’s about what’s right.
For every guy that you can demonstrate was held down for service time, I can give an easy 10 that got promoted too early. Most 21 year old guys with only 83 ABs above A ball are going to fail. For all the unbelievable hype about Vlad Jr., it took two years before he could play consistently.
Address it how? Force teams to call guys up? That does mean taking a spot away from someone else, you know? You want lawyers deciding when players get promoted?
They don’t have this problem in the NFL I know that. NBA also not an issue. So…
FB is primarily a brute force sport. And the inability to play well for your first year or two is certainly an issue. I can probably name you 50 guys that struggled in their first year or two that went on to a pretty good career.
First of you think the Mariners are three only team that does it get your head out of the sand. Your team does it too.
FB and the NBA don’t really have that problem because they don’t have minor league teams. MLS you might have a small case but those are mostly teenagers or early 20 something players. They call them up when needed though a few teenagers are on the teams but they are an exception.
Using the words of a half drunk fool isn’t really a case. He should have been fired years ago and with new owners was probably getting close to being out the door. The Nintendo owner was too loyal and kept guys way to long. They should have sold years earlier.
I want to see Kelenic up as bad as anyone but I don’t want another Zunino and to this point White. Hopefully they can send Evan down for a. month or so and let him get some confidence. Also like the story said holding him down for another year isn’t the only reason. I figured all along that he would play a month at AAA before being called up. Here is hoping he gets the call and keeps playing like he has been.
NBA and NFL are completely different from MLB. No comparison.
Evan really needs to get sent down. It’s getting really hard to watch him consistently and completely wiff on fastballs right down the middle of the plate
Saying that the NFL and NBA don’t have that problem might be the worst argument I’ve seen on this website. How does that make a case at all? Completely different sports, completely different size rosters, completely different schedule. Shall I continue to show you how asinine that argument is?
Yeah it happens with the Mariners all the time, with all the top prospects that we’ve held down in the minors so that we have more control. You clearly haven’t paid attention in the Mariners for the last 20 years. We haven’t had any prospects to do that with… Ackley maybe but when you’re hitting near .400 in the minors you don’t have any excuse to keep him down. Guarantee you won’t find one example of the Mariners manipulating any service time before this. And I don’t think they’re manipulating Kelenics service time. Have you seen his average in AAA?
It’s all a big farce! What sane league incentivices keeping some of its best players away from the big stage? Absolutely atrocious…
It’s a big farce claim a player is the “best” before they’ve done anything against Major League pitching over multiple seasons.
You could have wrote an article like this about Logan Gilbert too. With 3 starting pitchers injured and apologies to Robert Dugger and Ljay Newsome, they really can’t say that they have a better starter than him to fill the 5th spot in the rotation.
Kyle Lewis is not a very good player. Yes, he had a very impressive start to last season and then fell off a cliff. He’s been worse this season. Mariners fan thinking they got a cornerstore with him are misguided.
Lewis is a good player but he doesn’t need to be a cornerstone. Kelenic and Rodriguez will fill that role offensively. Gilbert and Hancock will fill that role from the pitching side.
Luc (Soto 3rd best in the game)
I don’t think he is a cornerstone guy but I see him as a player that may make a few all stars and can help a team as a 3rd or 4th best player. maybe a .275 20-25 HRs and good defense.
Kyle Lewis is perfect trade bait for SEA. Take that RoY in the shortened season, bridge to the long-term stars: Kelenic, Rodriguez and use him as a piece to another trade for missing pieces. Not saying that his stock is immense, but it’s going to keep falling in a regular season.
His value would be high. Cost-controlled CFer, can’t be a free agent until 2026.
I agree with you on Lewis. He reminds me a lot of Mike Cameron in his game. I think Cameron was superior defensively and Lewis probably has a bit more raw power. I’d imagine he settles in as a .260/.340/.460 guy for many years.
I’m not worried about his less than 60 at bats so far as he was down for weeks with the knee and had no games to get his timing going. He will come around.
Kyle Lewis doesn’t make enough contact to be a consistent .270 hitter. He’ll settle in around the .240-.250 mark with enough walks to keep his OBP in the .315 range. The pop is real and could be 25-30. His defense is meh in CF but would be good in a corner. He is a Randal Grichuk clone. He’s too good to not play but not good enough to get excited about.
Scott Kazmir and Kelenic are 2 names that Met fans hate to hear.
The Kazmir trade anger pretty much subsided by now but at the time, it wasn’t pleasant. Kelenic anger is still coming big time.
Lee Mazzilli for HOF
One of the top pitching prospects in baseball for a number 5 starter on last place team. Apodaka could fix him in 5 minutes.
@steve – as a Mets fan, you can stop reminding us of what we got in return. I believe Tim asked for unbiased writing (I’m starting to believe you’re a Yankee fan) and you’re killing me.
“Regaidless” of when, Kelenic is very much ready. It’s a service issue thing, they just didn’t want it to be obvious so they have him still down there.
If that were the case they would just wait until next season to call him up.
honestly the trade just gets worse when you think about it. Gave up both Kelenic and Dunn to get Diaz who single handly cost the mets a playoff spot in 2019. And have to pay Cano 24 million a year.
You’re not paying Cano 24 million a year. Seattle is paying most of that money. And I wouldn’t get too worried about Dunn. He looks like he’s destined to become the next Fernando Rodney and if you’re a Mariners fan, that’s not a good thing, at all. I swear watching Rodney close games took years off my life. I’ve never seen someone consistently walk the bases full like he did. And that’s all Dunn does. How his ERA is what it is right now is completely baffling to me. Luck upon luck upon luck. Hope you enjoyed the rambling!
Selah Rick 2
His era is what it is because he has good stuff. Just doesn’t always go where he anticipated the ball going. He has improved from last year. Which is what the organization hoped would happen. 2nd season out of AA.