One of the Mets’ former top prospects is back in the division after the Atlanta Braves acquired outfielder Jarred Kelenic, along with pitcher Marco Gonzales and first baseman Evan White from the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Cole Phillips and Jackson Kowar.
The Mets selected Kelenic sixth overall in the 2018 draft but shipped him months later to the Mariners in the deal that yielded closer Edwin Diaz and the bloated contract of Robinson Cano.
Kelenic quickly shot up prospect rankings, rising to No. 4 in all of baseball in 2021 while Diaz struggled to consistently be the shutdown closer he was in 2018 with Seattle.
Also read: 2023 Mets Winter Meetings preview
The flamethrowing right-hander, however, figured it out and was baseball’s best closer in 2022 while Kelenic lasted just 54 games before a demotion to Triple-A. In his first 147 career games between 2021 and 2022, he batted just .168 with a .589 OPS, 21 home runs, and 60 RBI.
It appeared as though he was starting to figure things out in 2023. He lifted his average up to .253 with a .746 OPS, 11 home runs, 49 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 105 games, but it came with a near-two-month break after he broke his foot in late July by kicking a water cooler.
Early indications suggest that Kelenic will get a shot at a role in left field alongside Vaughn Grissom — once a top-10 prospect in the Braves organization who has had to change from his natural shortstop position following the emergence of Orlando Arcia as an All-Star.