The multi-channel display came just hours after MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that Kelenic was “likely” to debut this month – a highly anticipated timeline – which prompted some comments from Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto during a radio appearance on 710 ESPN (link via Brandon Gustafson of 710).
Dipoto acknowledged that Kelenic was getting closer and closer to the big leagues and that a promotion would come “sooner or later”. He’s made it clear that the organization wants to see him work against the Triple-A pitch. There is surely some truth to this, because if uptime was the only issue Kelenic could have been called over two weeks ago. But with the Mariners crumbling as a team, before they even got hit by left-hander Orioles John means, the managing director also noted that Kelenic “could add a spark to our attack if we give him this opportunity. “
Dipoto has spoken in the past about the importance of taking 30-40 games to assess which club they broke camp with, and we are now in that territory with generally poor offensive results. Fellow best outfield prospect Taylor Trammell hit just .156 / .261 / .338 with a drawdown rate of 43.8 percent. Or Jose Marmolejos placeholder image or Sam Haggerty hit particularly well during his time in left field; The Mariners left fielder only hits .204 / .316 / .357 overall.
The Mariners got a nice rebound effort from Mitch Haniger in right field, as he returned from a .254 / .300 / .534 batting injury in his first 130 appearances at home plate. Kyle Lewis missed the first few weeks of the year on the injured list and struggled to get a .181 / .231 / .388 slash. It’s not a pretty result, but it’s only 52 appearances on the plateau and as the reigning AL Rookie of the Year he has a longer leash than others.
There is no denying that left field has been a black hole on an already under-above-par attacking club, however. And with Haniger, Ty France and Kyle Seager all slowing down to varying degrees after a warm start to the season, the Mariners’ offense looks increasingly lifeless. As a team, the Mariners only hit .201 / .280 / .359. They rank last in the Majors on average, 29th in OBP and 26th in slugging percentage.
Despite the putrid offensive performance, however, the pitch and the right timing on some of the rare hits the Mariners mustered helped them reach a 17-15 record. The fact that they are currently in second place only creates an additional temptation to take a look at Kelenic, who currently ranks fourth in the game in the world at Baseball America, FanGraphs and MLB.com. Plugging Kelenic into the everyday bats in left field won’t be a panacea for the team’s overall offensive futility, even if it immediately meets expectations, but it would be a step in the right direction.
Regardless of when Kelenic makes his debut this year, the Mariners will be able to control him throughout the 2027 season. A promotion in May would put him on track to earn Super Two status, which would make him eligible for the arbitration four times instead of the standard three, but its path to free agency has already been delayed.
Of course, his timeline towards arbitration and free will could eventually become moot if the two parties eventually agree on a long-term contract. The former Mariners president put the spotlight on Kelenic by revealing earlier this year that he had turned down a contract extension and would open the year in minors. The comment prompted Kelenic and agent Brodie Scoffield to tell USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the club made it clear to him that Kelenic would have been in the Majors last year had he accepted the extension offer before the season 2020. Many have speculated that this may have led to burnt bridges or harsh feelings, but Scoffield told MLBTR following that interview that Kelenic remains open to future proposals.
For now, the focus is on when Kelenic makes his Majors debut. If he meets or exceeds expectations at the big league level, it would be a surprise if the team does not have make another attempt to prepare an offer.