The 2024 MLB offseason kicked off with an under-the-radar Jarred Kelenic trade that saw the Seattle Mariners send the former top prospect to the Atlanta Braves, freeing up financial resources while the Braves filled a need of finding a new right fielder after deciding not to re-sign Eddie Rosario. The Braves took on two contracts Seattle wanted to get out of while sending back Cole Phillips, their number 7 prospect. With a lot of moving parts, here are the Jarred Kelenic trade grades for both sides.
This appears to be a situation where both teams had a goal that they wanted to achieve, and both sides were able to achieve their core goals. The Braves had one glaring hole on their roster, and they were able to fill that hole yesterday. While Kelenic has certainly fallen short of his lofty projections as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, he started to break out in 2023 and he still possesses immense upside.
Braves grade: A-
The Braves took on a bad contract and gave up a player in the lower half of their top ten prospect rankings, but that is a fairly cheap price to pay in order to acquire a young player with high draft pedigree and upside at a position of need.
Despite not living up to lofty expectations so far in his career, Kelenic’s production in 2023 is actually on par with the player that he will be replacing. Kelenic had an OPS+ that was nine points higher than Rosario. While Rosario hit more home runs, Kelenic had a higher on-base percentage and more stolen bases.
While time will tell whether or not this gamble will pay off for the Braves, they took a chance and acquired a player with upside. The reward was worth the risk for Atlanta, and they deserve credit for identifying an opportunity and striking while the iron was still hot.
Mariners grade: C+, incomplete
Any time that you are giving up a former top prospect, it will be an uphill climb to earn a good grade on that deal.
Jarred Kelenic had been viewed as a future cornerstone for Seattle, and it will certainly hurt for them to give up completely on him. Seattle had a disappointing season in 2023 and they appear committed to making the necessary improvements to contend in 2024.
In order to make these improvements, they needed to create more financial flexibility moving forward. The easiest way to do this is to offload bad contracts, and the price for that is often trading away promising prospects.
Seattle needed to cut money to put themselves in a better position moving forward. Evan White is under contract until 2029, and between Marco Gonzales and White, the Mariners cleared nearly $20 million from their salary in this deal. Even more impressive is that they were able to obtain a prospect with upside in return. If Phillips can turn out to be a serviceable pitcher, could start to look a lot better.
Ultimately, this grade for the Mariners depends on what they do with the money that they cleared off their books. If the Mariners use this money to make a competitive offer for Shohei Ohtani, this grade quickly jumps to an A.
The bottom line: Atlanta earns high marks, Seattle’s grade is incomplete until we see their next moves
Both teams had a specific goal going into this offseason and this trade aimed to accomplish those goals. The Braves needed to fill the hole they had in the outfield, and the Mariners wanted to clear up their salary cap situation and give themselves some financial flexibility. What they do with that flexibility will ultimately determine whether this Jarred Kelenic trade is a success or a failure.