Jarred Kelenic Should Demand A Trade
No, this is not the insane ramblings of a New York Mets fan still bitter over the Robinson Cano trade debacle. While still bitter about it, and forever will be, this is about Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather unapologetically saying the quiet part out loud.
It’s adorable that @Mariners CEO Kevin Mather thought having the Rotary Club delete the video from YouTube would make the problem go away. So predictable.
Here’s a few clips…
Mather talking about service time manipulation pic.twitter.com/zcvCJ6jTrk
— Nick Francona (@NickFrancona) February 22, 2021
Full Transcript of Mariners President Kevin Mather’s Remarks to Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club 😳 pic.twitter.com/TaXmjb2Xz2
— Sports ON Tap Seattle (@SONTSeattle) February 21, 2021
Essentially, Maher said Jarred Kelenic was going to start the season on the Opening Day roster if he signed a contract with the Mariners buying out some of his free agent years. As noted, Evan White signed such a deal, purportedly against the advice of the union, and he began the season in the majors.
Now, we know teams play this game all the time, and many call it service time manipulation. The thing is team’s are never supposed to overtly say or admit it even when it is painfully obvious like with Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs in 2015.
With Bryant, he officially filed a grievance over it. He’d lose mostly because the Cubs had some plausible deniability. With Maher overtly saying it, or at least very strongly implying it, there really is no doubt what the Mariners are doing here.
The Mariners more or less publicly stated since Kelenic wouldn’t sign their contract offer, he can wait a few weeks for his Major League career to begin. Essentially, they’re punishing him by not doing what they want, and they’re going to keep him an additional year.
Again, this has been the standard practice with few exceptions. However, it is far from standard for teams to tell people they’re actually doing it. The Mariners aren’t even doing the traditional wink and a nod.
In retaliation, Kelenic should give the Mariners an ultimatum – put me on the Opening Day roster, or trade me.
Yes, in baseball this would be entirely unprecedented. It’s almost as unprecedented as a team president admitting the team is manipulating service team and not calling up players unless they sign their contract offer.
However, outside of baseball this wouldn’t be all that unprecedented. Eli Manning told the San Diego Chargers he wouldn’t play for them, which led to his being traded to the New York Broncos. That was akin to John Elway signing with the New York Yankees because he refused to play for the Baltimore Colts.
The New York Rangers have benefitted from this signing Kevin Hayes who became a free agent after not signing with the Chicago Blackhawks. Current defenseman Aaron Fox saw his rights traded twice partially as a result of his really wanting to play for his hometown Rangers.
So while they do this in other sports, it hasn’t happened in baseball, at least not yet.
More than that, look at how the Mariners operate. White signs the deal, and he goes from Double-A to the majors. Kelenic doesn’t, and he needs about a month of Triple-A at-bats. It’s beyond obvious what they’re doing, and that’s partially because they’re saying it.
Because of what the Mariners are doing, Kelenic should in respond in kind. There are 29 other teams who would line up to put him on their Opening Day roster if they could get him into their system. If the Mariners won’t put him on theirs, he should tell the team he won’t play for them.
After all, what’s the worst the Mariners can do here? Not pay him? In case they haven’t noticed, they’ve been effectively not paying him for two years. They’re now threatening to not do that for another month, which is exactly why Kelenic should make this demand.