Avert your eyes, Mets fans.
Jarred Kelenic, the highly touted prospect center fielder whom the Mets traded away in a deal they’ve probably come to regret, is expected to make his long-awaited MLB debut this week with the Mariners.
The No. 3-overall prospect in baseball is expected be called up Thursday for a home game against the Cleveland Indians, according to ESPN, more than two years after Kelenic was sent to Seattle in a trade headlined by Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz coming to New York.
While Cano sits out the season for violating baseball’s PED policy a second time and Diaz delivers mixed results from the mound, Kelenic continues to light it up in the Mariners’ farm system.
The sixth-overall pick in the 2018 draft is 9-for-20 with two home runs, six RBIs and two stolen bases in five games with Triple-A Tacoma.
Kelenic, 21, might have made his debut last season had Seattle not been manipulating his service time in order to keep him under team control longer — a tactic former CEO Kevin Mather revealed in February to the dismay of Kelenic and the players’ association.
“Money shouldn’t determine when a player is called up to the big leagues,” Kelenic told USA Today following Mather’s comments, which, in addition to racist remarks he made about Mariners employees, led to Mather resigning. “This should be an exciting time for baseball. We had such a negative year with COVID and everything shutting down. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Now, the day before spring training, this is what I have to deal with.”
Kelenic won’t be eligible for free agency until 2027 because of the Mariners’ delay in calling him up. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto apologized to Kelenic for Mather’s comments, but denied service-time manipulation, a taboo strategy many teams partake in but don’t talk about publicly.
The 18-17 Mariners were third in the AL West as of Monday night, as they try to snap a 19-year playoff drought, the longest active streak in North American professional sports.