Jarred Kelenic has become one of the marquee acquisitions by the Atlanta Braves this offseason. His name may not be a household name just yet but he has the opportunity to change that in Atlanta.
In case you missed it, the Braves and Mariners completed a five-player trade that sent Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips to Seattle. In return, Atlanta received Jarred Kelenic, Marco Gonzales, and Evan White.
The Braves hope Kelenic can regain his success from early 2023 before injuring himself by kicking a cooler and missing a chunk of the season. He and Huascar Ynoa have that in common. However, they both can use that as a learning opportunity.
Essentially, the Braves took on a salary dump to acquire Kelenic and have him compete with Vaughn Grissom to be their everyday left fielder. Some fans seem to be skeptical of taking on that much money for a player they see as underwhelming.
To be fair, I understand that side of things because you don't want to hurt the team financially for a player who may not figure it out. However, from Atlanta's perspective, they have a great track record of being able to fix players' swings. They also retain control of Kelenic's services for 5 more seasons. It's worth the risk in their eyes.
Jarred Kelenic meets with Braves media
Kelenic recently met with Braves insiders and discussed how the trade made him feel and how he thinks he fits in with this team. He also touched on how missing a month after injuring himself in frustration changed things for him.
Jarred was watching the Green Bay Packers game when he received the news from Seattle GM Justin Hollander, that he'd been traded to the Atlanta Braves. He expressed how he was immediately "fired up" by the move.
He knew he'd be joining a team with a great organizational culture and a history of winning. He, too, noticed just how incredible the 2023 Atlanta Braves were.
Kelenic expressed just how excited he is to be joining a prolific offense like the one featured in Atlanta. He mentioned looking forward to seeing how everyone goes about things on a day-to-day basis.
"Watch how they go about their business on a day to day and really learn the ins and the outs of what they're doing because obviously, it's working. They're some of the best players in the game on that roster."- Jarred Kelenic
It seems that Kelenic knows he has some things that need tweaking and that joining the Braves will allow him to do that. Not only does it take pressure off of him to be the next big thing for the Mariners but it also allows him the chance to know he's a part of an organization that believes highly in his ability to perform.
In a conversation with Justin Toscano from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ($), Kelenic discussed how that foot injury was a major turning point in his young career.
"I took a step back and I just kept thinking to myself, 'What am I doing? I'm not happy. I'm way to frustrated, I'm letting my emotions get the best of me. I'm not even enjoying this.' "- Jarred Kelenic on his growth as a player
He realized just how special what he does for a living is and how thankful he should be for the opportunity given to him as this was something he'd been dreaming of doing his entire life. As he states further, "I just truly felt thankful to have the opportunity to be out there and playing again".
That moment was a painful lesson for Kelenic but it seemed to be one that was needed to bring things back into focus for the talented outfielder, who isn't even 25 years old yet. While it may seem the Braves took a chance on an unproven player, he has yet to get close to his ceiling.
Very similar to Ronald Acuna Jr. who needed failure and the right coach to help get him in the right direction. Kevin Seitzer has a proven track record of helping guys unlock their full potential. When you partner Seitzer, Chipper Jones, and Kelenic's raw talent together, fans are looking at a perfect storm for a breakout season.
Kelenic doesn't need to worry about anything other than playing his game and focusing on his strengths. In Seattle, he was expected to be the next best thing and become the face of the franchise. In Atlanta, they already have several players who fit that mold. Kelenic can afford to let some of that pressure roll off of his back.
The Braves didn't take on almost $17 million for 5 years of Kelenic to not invest in him. They have confidence in Kelenic as a player and his ability to bounce back. Atlanta is one of the few organizations that value treating players well and doing things the "right" way. He has landed in the perfect spot for a second chance. Why wouldn't he be fired up?