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M’s deal Kelenic to Braves

The Seattle Mariners have traded Jarred Kelenic to the Braves in order to offload salary

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves made a trade last night, on the eve of the Winter Meetings, with the M’s sending Jarred Kelenic, Evan White and Marco Gonzalez, along with cash, to the Braves for Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips.

If you are looking at this deal and saying, the Mariners got nothing back, you’re more or less right. Kowar is a 27 year old righthanded pitcher who was a first round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2018, but who has had zero success in the majors, putting up a 9.12 ERA in 74 appearances the past three years. The Braves acquired him for the injured Kyle Wright, who otherwise was a non-tender candidate. Phillipes was the Braves’ second round pick in 2022, a righthanded pitcher out of Boerne High School who hasn’t pitched as a pro due to Tommy John surgery.

For the Mariners, this move is about clearing salary off their books. Gonzales is a 31 year old lefty who has generally been fine a league average starter throughout his career, but who only made 10 starts in 2023, putting up a 5.22 ERA. He is owed $12 million this year.

Evan White was the Mariners’ 1st round pick in 2017, and was signed to a 6 year, $24 million deal before he ever played in the majors. White is a glove-first first baseman who has a career .165/.235/.308 slash line in 306 plate appearances. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2021, and missed much of the past couple of seasons due to injuries. He is owed $7 million in 2024, $8 million in 2025, and then has three team options after that, which will presumably be declined with a $2 million buyout being paid. Getting White’s $17 million off the books would seem to be the prime motivator of this deal.

To move the Gonzales and White contracts, the Mariners are sending along Jarred Kelenic. A first round pick of the Mets in 2018, and the prize of the deal that sent Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to New York, the 24 year old outfielder has disappointed in Seattle. Kelenic put up a .168/.251/.338 slash line between 2021-22 before registering a respectable 2023 campaign, when he slashed .253/.327/.419 while playing all three outfield spots. However, it is theorized that the M’s are wanting to reduce the amount of Ks in their lineup, which is why they moved Eugenio Suarez earlier this offseason, and motivated them to use Kelenic in this deal.