The future is now: Seattle Mariners getting superstar potential in Jarred Kelenic

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Jarred Kelenic can do nearly everything on a baseball field. The Seattle Mariners, at last, will be able to see it on Thursday

The Seattle Mariners made it official on Thursday morning: the Jarred Kelenic era, after a contentious and controversial offseason, is finally here.

Kelenic, the No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, can hit. He has power. He’s fast (37 stolen bases in 179 minor league games) and possesses a strong arm from the outfield. He is, in short, everything the Mariners are looking for, a five-tool franchise superstar in the making.

The Mariners are calling up Kelenic to make his Major League debut on Thursday against the Cleveland Indians. He posted a video on social media that shows him transitioning from the jersey of Triple-A Tacoma to that of the big-league club, with the simple caption, “Now we go.”

Kelenic opened the season in Tacoma with two home runs last Thursday and four-straight multi-hit games to begin his Triple-A career. He’s batting .370 with a 1.043 OPS in six games. In spring training, Kelenic led the Mariners in OPS, hit .300, and struck out just once in 20 at-bats.

The future is now for the Mariners with Jarred Kelenic called up

So why didn’t he make the Major League roster right from the start if he was clearly ready? Because, as former team CEO Kevin Mather controversially made clear in February, of MLB’s service time rules. Those six games with Tacoma will push back his potential free agency from 2026 to 2027.

Mather was forced to resign in February after comments before a rotary club that the Mariners offered Kelenic a long-term deal. When he declined, they kept him in the minors to prevent the clock from starting on his MLB service time. The relationship between club and star prospect was antagonistic even before it really began.

“It was communicated to Jarred that had he signed that contract, he would have debuted last year,” Kelenic’s agent, Brodie Scoffield, told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale in February. “It was made crystal clear to Jarred, then and now, that his decision not to call him up is based on service time.”

The Mariners hope there aren’t any hard feelings; Mather, after all, is long gone. Kelenic, for his part, seems content that his time has finally arrived.

If he’s everything as advertised, the addition of Kelenic would be a big boost to a sluggish Mariners offense. Seattle’s lineup is last in the Majors with a .204 batting average this season. They’ve already used six different left fielders, the position Kelenic is expected to play, who are collectively batting .162 (again last in the league). Mariners left-fielders have the highest strikeout rate this season and the third-worst OPS (.583).

Despite this lack of production, the Mariners sit just one game under .500 with an 18-19 record. Kelenic will join reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis and AL home run leader Mitch Haniger to create a formidable outfield. All of them are under contract at least for another two years.

Whatever happened in the past is behind them. The Mariners are looking toward their future, one that, with Kelenic’s impending debut, is beginning to look promising.

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