Grading the Braves trade for Jarred Kelenic

MLB: SEP 20 Mariners at Athletics

The Braves only had one positional need to fill, and they addressed it by swinging a trade with the Mariners for Jarred Kelenic.

Atlanta didn’t have to give up much to acquire the former #6 overall pick, but they did have to take on a substantial amount of salary in the form of Marco Gonzales (owed $12 million in 2024) and Evan White (owed $15 million through 2025). However, I wanted to let the dust settle a little and see if the Braves were going to do anything with those contracts before I handed out an initial grade for this trade.

The Braves were able to shed some of Marco Gonzales’ salary by dealing him to the Pirates, but it does look like they will have to bite the bullet on Evan White, who has really struggled in the majors to the tune of a .165/.235/.308 slash line in 84 games. He’s already been outrighted to Gwinnett and will likely be collecting some pretty substantial checks while playing for the Stripers.

Grading the Braves Trade for Jarred Kelenic

Essentially, the Braves sent Cole Phillips and paid the Mariners $15-20 million for the rights to Jarred Kelenic, who is under team control through 2028. Kelenic was once viewed as a top 10 prospect in baseball and was the centerpiece of another trade that brought Edwin Diaz to the Mets. At the time, people were applauding the Mariners for being able to acquire Kelenic in a trade for a closer. Unfortunately for Seattle, he never quite developed into what most people thought he was going to become.

In Kelenic’s first two major-league seasons, he hit just .168 with 21 homers and a .589 OPS in 147 games. However, he did seem to figure some things out last season. Kelenic began the year on fire and boasted an OPS north of .800 until the middle of June, but he began to revert back to his old ways and then broke his foot by kicking a cooler in the dugout.

That seemed to be the final straw for the Mariners, who are giving up on him at just 24-years-old. There’s no guarantee he’ll be any better for the Braves, but Atlanta has been a place where careers come to thrive, and Brian Snitker believes that could be the case for the ultra-talented Kelenic.

“I just know just talking to people how talented the kid is,” Snitker said, via Kris Willis of Battery Power. “It’ll be good for him to get in with our group, our program and what we do and how we approach things. I think it’ll be really beneficial for a young, talented player.”

This just feels like one of those moves that’s going to work out magically for the Braves. Kelenic has all the tools to be an All-Star caliber player, and a change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered. There won’t be pressure like he faced in Seattle to be the face of the franchise in Atlanta. Those are already around in bunches. He’ll just be asked to be himself, and that could result in something special.

At worst, Kelenic should be able to provide similar production to what Rosario provided over the last two seasons, but at a fraction of the price. At best, Kelenic realizes his full potential and becomes the next Braves player to make his first All-Star team. One thing I do know is if it was going to happen anywhere, it will happen in Atlanta.

Grade: B+

Photo: Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire

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