The Mariners front office and Scott Servais have some tough decisions to make about who will make the Opening Day roster. One of those decisions, whether or not top prospect Jarred Kelenic will start the season on the Opening Day roster, just got a lot harder (Or easier?).
ESPN’s Jeff Passan has dropped another significant piece of news this offseason, as he just reported that the AAA season will be pushed back at least one month after its scheduled start date of April 6.
The key phrase used by Passan in his tweet? “At least.” There is no set start date now for the AAA season and it could start, best case scenario, on May 6th. Or, it could be delayed even longer. To replace AAA and the rest of the minor league teams (AA and A were already slated to start late) the MLB is bringing back the alternate training site system that was used in 2020.
So why is this big news for Jarred Kelenic and the Mariners?
While this won’t be big news for most teams and players, as Passan reports the season will still go on as planned in terms of the amount of AAA games as they will play unusually deep into September, this is huge news for Jarred Kelenic and the Mariners decision-makers.
As I wrote about earlier today, the assumption is that the Mariners would have Kelenic start the season in AAA and hit a target number of 1,000 career minor league at-bats or get close to it, and then he would be brought up around June or July. Now, Kelenic will lose at least 100 minor league at-bats, and if Seattle wanted to stick to their guns and bring up Jarred when he gets around 200-300 at-bats at a level higher than Single-A, they will have to wait to bring him up until July or August.
Of course, the key phrase I mentioned earlier was “At least,” meaning if the Mariners kept Kelenic down they would have no idea when he could start getting regular AAA at-bats. This has to make the Mariners’ decision on if he will start the season on the MLB roster harder, or maybe easier.
If the front office was on the fence about whether or not to have him be the Opening Day starter in left field, their decision just got easier. Or, if they wanted to stick to their plan of having him reach 1,000 minor league at-bats, now their decision just got a lot harder.