Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic on day he was supposed to face Mets for first time

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Jarred Kelenic’s much-anticipated return to New York will no longer take place. That’s because the Mariners demoted him Friday, optioning the slumping outfielder to Triple-A Tacoma hours before their series opener in Queens. If the timing seems suspicious to anyone, you’re not alone.

Kelenic, of course, began his career in the Mets’ organization, arriving with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He only made it to rookie ball with New York before then-GM Brodie Van Wagenen traded him to Seattle along with Jay Bruce, Gerson Bautista, Justin Dunn and Anthony Swarzak in a deal for Robinson Cano (released by the Mets earlier this month) and closer Edwin Diaz.

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Kelenic was, at one point in time, among the most coveted prospects in all of baseball, with many accusing Seattle of intentionally keeping him in Triple-A to avoid paying him. However, the 22-year-old has struggled mightily since debuting in the majors last season, hitting a dreadful .173 with 142 strikeouts in 473 MLB plate appearances. Kelenic endured a nightmare 0-for-39 stretch as a rookie and was having a similarly rough go of it before his demotion, striking out in 36 of his 86 at-bats this year with an anemic .136/.216/.333 line against right-handers.

With nothing going right for Kelenic, you could argue the Mariners did him a favor, sparing him the added pressure of facing his former team, and whatever hostile reception would await him at Citi Field.

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