Atlanta Braves launch the Winter Meetings with a trade for Seattle trio

The stove is hot as the Atlanta Braves complete the first trade of the 2023 Winter Meetings.
Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners
Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves have completed the first trade of the 2023 Winter Meetings. Seattle has agreed to send outfielder Jarred Kelenic, left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales, and first baseman Evan White to the Braves in exchange for Jackson Kowar and minor leaguer, Cole Phillips.

We knew there would be movement happening at the Winter Meetings but this move certainly came out of nowhere and according to reports, suddenly developed over the day on Sunday.

Jarred Kelenic

Kelenic is a former first-round draft pick by the Mets in 2018. He was sent to the Mariners in the trade that landed Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano in Flushing. Kelenic was lauded as one of baseball's most exciting prospects just a couple of years ago but he's struggled to adjust to the big leagues so far.

Although, he had his best season so far in 2023, appearing in 105 games with a slash line of .253/.327/.419 with 11 home runs, 49 RBI, 13 SB, 108 wRC+, and a 109 OPS+. He suffered a broken foot after kicking a water cooler during a game last July. He didn't return to the field until September.

Kelenic has decent speed on the basepaths and is lauded for having great arm strength. He just hasn't reached his potential offensively. Atlanta will hope to unlock that as they'll have control of Kelenic for a few seasons. He will be arbitration-eligible next season and won't reach free agency until 2029.

Marco Gonzales

Gonzales only appeared in 10 games during 2023 before receiving season-ending surgery due to a nerve issue in his forearm. He posted a 5.22 ERA and a 4.28 FIP in 50 innings. The 9-year veteran is owed $12.25 million in 2024.

He isn't a top of the rotation arm but he is a great option for the end of the rotation. He will give the Braves that depth they have been looking for rotation-wise. Despite having surgery, he is expected back at the start of Spring Training. Gonzales completed 183 innings in 2022 and could provide the Braves with an innings eater in the backend of the rotation.

He features a 4-seam fastball which sits in the low 90s, a changeup, a curveball, and a cutter. So, the southpaw depends on a lot of movement and pitch mix to get outs. Hopefully, he can find success with the Braves and be a nice surprise in 2024.

Gonzales isn't the type of starting pitching upgrade many expected this offseason and I don't believe the Braves are done searching for that option. AA did say the team feels they've met their need for left field with Kelenic and Grissom as their main options. However, the team still needs depth in the pitching department so I would expect another move or two to address that.

Evan White

The last player in the deal is Evan White who made his MLB debut in 2020. White has struggled a bit offensively with a .165 batting average in 84 games but only played in the majors for 2 seasons. He has spent the last two seasons at Triple-A.

White did win a Gold Glove in 2020 so he is great defensively but is blocked by Matt Olson at first base so this is strictly a depth move and he will be at Gwinnett to start the season. However, there is a chance that he could be an option for the Braves designated hitter.

Seattle signed White to a 6-year deal worth $24 million and has club options for the 2026, 2027, and 2028 seasons. There is a $2 million buyout for the 2026 season as well. He is owed $7 million in 2024.

This deal is mostly a salary dump for the Mariners. Sending these three to Atlanta saves Seattle about $30 million in payroll according to MLB insider, Joel Sherman.

Braves insider Grant McCauley mentioned that Seattle most likely sent over cash considerations to help cover the remaining $17 million owed to White.

What did the Braves give up?

Atlanta sends over Jackson Kowar who was recently acquired for Kyle Wright from the Royals and prospect Cole Phillips. Phillips is a flamethrowing reliever who was selected by the Braves in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft.

This is a great move that addressed a couple of important needs for Atlanta. It doesn't put them over the top for 2024 and this shouldn't be the final move they make. However, it's good to see AA find ways to cover those needs without breaking the bank.

Day 2 of the Winter Meetings takes place on Monday so be on the lookout for any updates here on House That Hank Built.

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