The first month of this offseason consisted of the Braves, in order to clear space, giving up on Kyle Wright, Nicky Lopez, Michael Soroka, Jared Shuster and Braden Shewmake. All people that were looking like they could help going forward, thrown out the window to make space for an Aaron Nola signing that did not happen. It was very enlightening, and positively soul-crushing, to see which young players the Braves didn't care about in the event of spending more money on someone big.
Then a team I liked better did it, and now I'm equally baffled.
Okay. So. Remember how we all thought Jackson Kowar coming over from Kansas City meant that the Braves had a role for him? They did. As bait. Kowar, along with another young pitcher, is the return going to Seattle, in exchange for....two players I understand and one I absolutely, positively do not.
The Mariners had two people who had begun to waste space on their team, and they made more sense in Atlanta. Evan White was a gold-glove first baseman in the sole season he was healthy for, and thanks to Ty France, hasn't really had room to play 1st base lately. Yes, in Atlanta he'd be backing up Matt Olson, but he also works as a defensive antithesis to Olson, and he may have a role in this team going forward. Or, and knowing the Braves' strategy this could also be it, he's bait for another trade. Marco Gonzales I also get, cause he's been rough lately, was injured for a portion of the year, and was holding up the train of rookies for a bit. Gonzales might be a good piece for the Braves to build on, either he fits in as a surefire low-rotation veteran or he's cooked and a rookie can step in.
But...remember, like...three years ago when the Mariners traded Robinson Cano to the Mets for Jarred Kelenic among others, and everybody went 'ohh noooo, stupid Mets, why'd you give the best prospect in baseball away?', and then Kelenic got even better in the minors? The Mariners knew something about Kelenic. That's why they kept their faith in him after a few seasons of shoddy MLB work. They knew that what showed up early in 2023 would happen, and that Kelenic would come into his own for them.
....so they traded him to the best team in the NL in exchange for cap room.
I...every moment I start to get why the Mariners would dump Kelenic, I get it less. I know now that it's a cap room move. The Mariners wanna save space and make a big signing, maybe some big Japanese player who's asking for a lot of money and wants a deal done this week, maybe this was made in direct response to that. So that I get. But...why cut Kelenic right when he's getting good? Why give up on the guy who was about to be one of your marquee guys alongside Rodriguez, France and Crawford? Why give him to Atlanta, who are now without Eddie Rosario and could honestly use another outfielder? Why...HELP the Braves??
What's going to make this move even more baffling is if the Mariners somehow don't get Ohtani now. They made this move so they can have room for Ohtani. Well, Ohtani might not pick Seattle. Remember, he wants a team with pre-existing Japanese players. The Mariners don't have any right now. They have a Japanese AMBASSADOR, but none on the team at the moment. So, like...unless there's something bigger at play, I'm not entirely sure this was the right move for Seattle, especially the 'giving up Jarred Kelenic before his prime's even a thing' bit. The Braves benefit, of course they benefit, but they didn't really have to.
I am hoping there is a companion move coming from Seattle. Or else this is likely the most baffling thing they've done since...well, since trading Paul Sewald to Arizona.