If that question had been asked about a month ago, I would have said that it was obvious. Keep Jarred Kelenic down in AAA for the time that it takes for him to be under control for seven seasons, participating in the popular trend of service time manipulation. It would have been expected, and while it hurts the players’ future bank account, I don’t think anyone would have been mad at the Mariners for doing it as it has become pretty common.
However, that all changed when, you know, that whole thing with Kevin Mather happened. Part of the Fiasco with Kevin Mather included him saying that the Mariners offered Kelenic a six-year contract before the 2020 season but he declined it, and that Kelenic would be kept down in the minors until the service time deadline passes so that Jarred would be a Mariner for at least 7 years.
Then, the Mariners’ top prospect said that he is being punished for not signing that contract, as he was kept down at the alternate training site for the entirety of the 2020 season, and then Mather admitted the plan was to bring him up once the service time deadline passed.
So should Jarred Kelenic start the season on the Mariners roster? Or, should he stay down for a few more months?
Recently, the Mariners director of player development Andy McKay said that the team did research on top prospects out of high school like Mike Trout, and found a trend that they had 1,000 to 1,200 at-bats in the minor leagues, a number that Kelenic has not reached yet (He only has 791).
So it does make sense if the Mariners want to keep Jarred down until he reaches that 1,000 mark or at least gets close to it. Of course, he would have reached that number last year if it weren’t for the minor league season getting canceled. I think it is reasonable for the Mariners to keep him in AAA to start the season, and if he is impressing as we all expect him to, sometime in June once he is close to the 1,000 at-bat mark I see him coming up to Seattle.
However, if I were Jerry Dipoto I would bring him up and have him start on Opening Day in left field. After the Kevin Mather fiasco, it’s a reasonable move to save face to bring him up and not keep him down any longer. Also, Mather saying that they offered him an Evan White style contract contradicts with what McKay said about why they would keep him down, as what Mather said means that they were comfortable bringing him up at only 791 minor league at-bats.
The other option is Seattle goes through with the plan that Mather leaked, and they bring him up as soon as he can be under control for seven years. I can only imagine the questions that would be asked by the media about that move and man, after all of that, how bad of a look would that be?
Again, I would bring up Jarred Kelenic right away, but I think the likely option is he hits or gets close to that 1,000 minor league at-bats number and comes up in June.