Passan: Mariners have right plan for Kelenic; why a Tatís trade won’t happen

Feb 7, 2023, 1:39 PM | Updated: 6:25 pm
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Jarred Kelenic rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Oakland A's on Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Mariners are hoping third time is the charm when it comes to young outfielder Jarred Kelenic.

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Kelenic, 23, is heading into his third MLB season and the hope for him and the Mariners is that the bat comes around.

Kelenic made his MLB debut back in May of 2021 but has overall struggled at the plate, resulting in multiple demotions back to Triple-A.

This year, Kelenic will compete for a roster spot in spring training and if he wins that as expected, he’ll be part of a platoon with veteran AJ Pollock in left field.

But should Kelenic struggle again, how hard would it be for the Mariners to find a replacement via trade?

“Not,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Tuesday. “It should not be difficult to find a left fielder at some point. I mean, left field, remember is the easiest of the outfield positions to play. So you theoretically could trade for a center fielder or you theoretically to trade for a right fielder, too.”

That being said, Passan thinks the Mariners are giving Kelenic a good chance to succeed in 2023, and for good reason.

“And I think, by the way, this is the right thing to do,” he said. “Jarred Kelenic, remember, was supposed to be like the centerpiece of this. Like the centerpiece.”

Kelenic was the Mariners’ former top overall prospect after being traded to Seattle from the New York Mets. As Passan noted, Kelenic was seen as a key part of the Mariners’ rebuild along with Julio Rodriguez, who made his debut last year and became an All-Star while winning Rookie of the Year honors.

“Before Julio emerged the way that he has, Kelenic was the guy,” Passan said. “And so to not give him the opportunity every single day to go out there, you have enough surrounding him now to buttress it. Like if he fails, if this doesn’t work, you can move him and you can feel good that you gave him the opportunity, finally, to actually capture this job, and sometimes prospects don’t work out.”

Passan also thinks Kelenic will turn his career around.

“I actually have faith in him. I think he’s gonna be good still,” he said. “And I may be dead wrong on this, but enough people whose opinions I respect think there’s still something there for me to not say, ‘This guy’s cooked, get rid of him, a change of scenery is necessary.’ And if you’re gonna do it, do it with a team that’s got enough talent to cover it if it’s not working.”

Tatís to the Mariners? Don’t hold your breath

Recently, MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger floated an interesting trade idea (7:40 mark of the video), which would see the Mariners acquire shortstop/outfielder Fernando Tatís Jr. from the San Diego Padres.

Tatís has shown the ability to be one of the best players in baseball, but he didn’t play at all last year due to both an injury sustained in a motorcycle accident as well as a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. He’s also inked to a $340 million deal that runs through the 2034 season.

Passan isn’t buying the possibility of Tatís to the Mariners or any other team.

“I have no idea where these are coming from … No. 1, he’s got a full no-trade clause, so if (the Padres) want to move him, he’s got to say yes. And he is not inclined at this moment to say yes,” he said. “But beyond that, if you’re another team, are you really going to trade for a guy who’s got $325-plus million dollars, I think, left on his contract when he’s coming off a PED suspension? You have no idea what he is. And to make that investment in somebody who has shown a string of bad decision-making, it’s just a really difficult thing to do, I think.”

Listen to the full interview with Passan at this link or in the player below.

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