Mariners Fans Show Confidence in Jarred Kelenic Despite Struggles
It was early December 2018 and the news just hit the screen. General Manager, Jerry Dipoto shipped closer Edwin Diaz along with an albatross of a contract in Robinson Cano to the New York Mets. Initial reviews considered this deal one of the biggest fleeces in the history of the game. Mainly because of the Mariner's ability to shed Cano’s contract, but the return was a solid haul for Seattle; which included a good mix of veterans (Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak) and prospects (Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista). As many of you know Kelenic was the headliner being a first-round pick just a year before.
Fast forward four years and the narrative has changed. Mets fans are riding high with “Sugar” Diaz; who has found another gear in the Big Apple. While many of the characters have moved on, Kelenic is still with Seattle routinely making trips between the Emerald City and Tacoma. His struggles are clearly documented and his brash nature on his initial call-up has created a fascinating storyline. Especially, on a team that needs SOMEONE to step up and fill what seems like a fifteen year void in left field (Milton Bradley, Rickie Weeks, Mark Trumbo...yikes).
Spring Training is less than a month away; we asked you about your confidence level in Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, and Cade Marlowe in what looks like an open competition for a lefty side of a platoon with veteran AJ Pollock. More than 2,500 fans weighed in, and Kelenic was the overwhelming favorite despite an anemic career slash line of .168/.251/.338.
A few fans showed some love to known "Cool Guy," Taylor Trammell, while others thought Pollock, Dylan Moore, or Sam Haggerty should win the competition. But that just isn't feasible, as each of those players has limitations, and as seen with both utility guys, overexposure is a real thing. Looking at the current roster construction, you can see a scenario where Dipoto is building the team to protect these players.
Circling back to the poll, the results were surprising to me considering the extreme consternation fans have given the 23-year-old Kelenic over the years. Maybe it's the fact that he has hit at every minor-league stop. A four-season cumulative slash line of 296/.356/.543 tells a pretty compelling story. One that would help solidify the bottom half of the lineup if it became reality. Or it could be the fact that the Wisconsinite has shown just enough at the big-league level (in flashes) to instill a feeling of hope in the fanbase.
We have 22 days until catchers and pitchers report to Peoria, with position players arriving shortly after. So keep your eyes peeled for a lefty-swinging battle for that outfield spot. If Kelenic's tools and first-round pedigree and Trammell's swing changes teamed with his likeability are any indication, it will be one heck of a competition.