Former prized Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic traded to NL East rival Braves

Former prized Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic traded to NL East rival Braves

SEATTLE — The Atlanta Braves acquired outfielder Jarred Kelenic, pitcher Marco Gonzales and infielder Evan White from the Seattle Mariners on Sunday night for right-handed pitchers Cole Phillips and Jackson Kowar.

The move added a veteran lefty to the Braves pitching staff, along with Kelenic, who at one time was one of baseball’s top young prospect.

In the process, Seattle cleared a chunk of salary off its payroll, giving up on Kelenic in order for the Braves to take the contracts of Gonzales and White.

Seattle is sending Atlanta cash as part of the trade.

Gonzales is owed $12 million for the 2024 season, while White has $17 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract.

“As we continue to work through this offseason with a goal of improving our team for 2024 and beyond, we believe the additions of Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips, as well as the roster and payroll flexibility created tonight, will move us closer to that goal,” Seattle President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said in a statement.

Jarred Kelenic catches a fly ball hit by Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (5) during the first inning at Globe Life Field. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Kelenic is the big piece going to Atlanta in the deal.

Once the prized prospect of the New York Mets organization, Kelenic was traded to Seattle in December 2018 when the Mariners sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Díaz to the Mets.

At the time, Kelenic was one of the top prospects in the minors, but his transition to the majors has gone through rough patches.

Last season was Kelenic’s first extended stretch as a starter with the Mariners and even that season ran into growth problems when he missed almost two months after fracturing his foot kicking a cooler in the dugout.

Kelenic ended the season hitting .253 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games.

The Mets’ first selection in the 2018 draft, Jarred Kelenic, talks with Mets assistant general manager John Ricco during batting practice. Getty Images

Gonzales was the longest tenured member of Seattle’s roster after being acquired via trade from St. Louis in 2017.

For a while, he was at the top of Seattle’s rotation before struggling at times the past two seasons.

Gonzales, 31, started 148 game over seven seasons with Seattle and had a 4.08 ERA during that time.

Gonzales pitched in only 10 games last season before undergoing surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve in his left arm.

He’s expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

White, 27, has seen his career defined by injuries since agreeing to a $24 million, six-year contract in November 2019 before his big league debut.

Marco Gonzales delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of game against the Oakland Athletics. Getty Images

He won a Gold Glove during the truncated 2020 season for his play at first base, but has not been able to stay healthy in the years since.

White has not played in the majors since appearing in 30 games in the 2021 season.

He is owed $7 million next year and $8 million in 2025 plus a $2 million buyout of a 2026 club option.

Kowar, 27, has major league experience and pitched in 23 games as a reliever for Kansas City last season.

But Phillips is the piece of the trade that could be useful in the future for Seattle.

The 20-year-old was a second-round pick in the 2022 draft and was one of the top 10 prospects in Atlanta’s farm system even though he has yet to pitch in a professional game.

Evan White at bat against the Baltimore Orioles at T-Mobile Park. Getty Images

Phillips underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the 2022 draft and has yet to make his professional debut.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Atlanta media on a conference call that the trade completes his search for a left fielder to replace Eddie Rosario, whose $9 million club option was declined.

Kelencic will get a chance at the job along with infielder Vaughn Grissom, who will begin learning to play outfield in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Grissom has struggled defensively as a shortstop but shown promising offensive skills, so the Braves are trying to find a way to get his bat in the lineup.

The right-handed hitter could wind up in a left field platoon with Kelenic, who bats from the left side, while also backing up in the middle infield.

Gonzales provides another back-end option for a rotation that struggled to lock down a full complement of pitchers during an injury plagued 2023 season.

The Braves also are looking to give free agent signee Reynaldo López a shot at starting after he worked exclusively as a reliever the past two seasons, though those plans could change if Anthopoulos is able to acquire another front-line starter to join a rotation that also includes Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder.

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