The simple answer is the most appropriate one: if Jarred Kelenic were to start this season with the Seattle Mariners – and not on that famed Taxi Squad down in Tacoma – the M’s would only have control over him through the 2025 season; whereas, if we hold off until a month into the 2021 season, the M’s would have control over him through 2027. That’s according to the terrific article by Larry Stone in today’s Seattle Times, and that’s all you really need to know.
Oh yeah, sure, there are other reasons. Some might call them excuses. Some might call them bullshit. Certainly, Kelenic doesn’t have a lot of minor league experience. Certainly, he’s not even 21 years old until tomorrow. Certainly, if he comes up here and struggles, the ramifications on his confidence can be brutal to be sent down and called back up multiple times. But, how is that any different than if he comes up to Seattle in May of 2021 and struggles?
It’s entirely financial. And, for as much as I’d love to get a look at him right this very season, I have to agree. This is the system Major League Baseball has set in place! There’s no salary cap. There’s no limit to how high baseball contracts can soar. There’s seemingly no end to albatross contracts that can cripple a franchise when the player starts to decline. Teams need to take every advantage they’ve left for themselves to try to win within this system. You could just as easily make the argument that bringing him up to the bigs now would be BETTER for his development, because he’d be going up against real Major League pitching in a season that’s largely meaningless (as opposed to pretend games against other young prospects in his own organization).
But, the bottom line is, if Kelenic is as game-changingly great as we all think he MIGHT be? Then we’re going to want to have that team control over him through the 2027 season. To keep the team’s salary down as much as possible for as long as possible (in hopes that we’re able to effectively build up this team around him with higher-priced studs), and/or to use as a negotiating tactic if-and-when we attempt to extend him on a long-term deal. Because if he IS as great as advertised, then we’re certainly going to want him around for the bulk/entirety of his professional career!
I think for that reason alone it’s worth waiting. Because, again, the Mariners in 2020 are going NOWHERE. The Mariners in 2021 are probably going nowhere as well.
But, in 2022? When he’s had five months to get acclimated to the big league game? Along with some of our other key prospects? Now we might be talking about something officially interesting. For my short-term interests, it’s not ideal. But long-term, it’s what has to be done.
More patience. Great. As if we haven’t been patient enough already!