The Braves and Mariners made some noise Sunday evening, with ESPN’s Jeff Passan reporting that Atlanta acquired outfielder Jarred Kelenic, starting pitcher Marco Gonzales, and first baseman Evan White in exchange for pitchers Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips. It was largely a salary dump for the Mariners. Seattle rids itself of Gonzales’s $12 million owed in 2024 before his 2025 club option. And White is due $15 million over the next two seasons after signing a six-year, $24 million deal before his 2020 major league debut.
Kowar had been added by the Braves in a deal with the Royals for Kyle Wright last month. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 9.12 ERA across 74 career innings. Plagued by walk issues, his days as a starter are likely behind him. There’s a bit more hope for Phillips long-term. The 20-year-old right-hander was a second-round pick in 2022 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. As with most activity out of Seattle, you have to wonder if this move precedes another move the team may have in store. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that the Mariners had engaged the Rays in talks earlier this offseason regarding Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes. In the immediate aftermath, it clears up a spot in the starting rotation for 23-year-old Bryan Woo, who flashed some exciting potential last year, posting a 4.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and a 93/31 K/BB ratio across 87 2/3 innings. Woo is currently going at pick 196 in early NFBC drafts and will likely gain momentum as we approach spring drafts.
On the Braves side, the team adds a young outfielder in Kelenic while taking on the extra salary. Kelenic has had his ups and downs in the majors and is coming off a season in which he hit .253/.327/.419 with 11 homers and 13 steals across 416 plate appearances. He’ll likely slot into left field, replacing Eddie Rosario. Kelenic has the power to take advantage of the ballpark upgrade and team context in a loaded Atlanta lineup but will need to improve on his 31.7 percent strikeout rate. As for Gonzales, Rosenthal reported Monday that the team intends to trade the 31-year-old left-hander. He posted a 5.22 ERA across 10 starts before undergoing season-ended elbow surgery. Though he should be ready to pitch by Opening Day.
Brewers Sign Jackson Chourio on Busy Monday
The Brewers made a series of moves on Monday, starting with Jackson Chourio’s eight-year, $82 million contract with club options for 2032 and 2033. The club options can make the deal worth up to $142.5 million. It’s the largest deal ever signed by a prospect yet to reach the majors, signaling plenty of confidence in the 19-year-old phenom. Chourio slashed .280/.336/.467 with 22 homers and 47 steals across 559 plate appearances in Double-A last season. He’ll have a chance to win the center field job at just 20 years old come spring training. Chourio is currently being drafted around pick 235 in NFBC drafts. With the contract a sign of reassurance that he’ll see the majors early in 2024, if not Opening Day, that price will only go up.
Milwaukee also signed both Joe Ross and Wade Miley to contacts on Monday. The team is taking a chance with Ross on a one-year contract. The 30-year-old pitched 14 innings in the minor leagues with the Giants after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2022. He last pitched in the majors with the Nationals in 2021, posting a 4.17 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and a 109/34 K/BB ratio across 108 innings. It’s unclear whether he’ll compete for a spot in the rotation or pitch out of the bullpen. Ross is unlikely to have any utility for fantasy purposes unless we see him return to his 2021 form. Miley returns to the team after producing a 3.14 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 79/38 K/BB ratio across 120 1/3 innings with the Brewers in 2023. While the ratios are impressive on the surface, he’s unlikely to maintain that success with a 16.1 percent strikeout rate and fortunate .234 BABIP. The 37-year-old left-hander can be avoided in fantasy drafts.
Dave Roberts Names Mookie Betts Everyday Second Baseman
Roberts appeared on MLB Network’s High Heat on Monday and provided a round of updates surrounding the team, most notably that Betts will be the team’s everyday second baseman in 2024. This was the case down the stretch in the second half last season, with Betts making 70 appearances at the position. The move should help keep the 31-year-old star on the field as much as possible while clearing up some playing time in the outfield. Betts is locked in as a top-10 pick and the top second baseman in fantasy drafts after hitting .307/.408/.579 with 39 homers, 126 runs scored, 107 RBI, and 14 steals across 693 plate appearances. Recently re-signed Jason Heyward should be in line to fill the strong side of a platoon in right field against right-handed pitching.
Along with the Betts update, Roberts added that Gavin Lux will be the starting shortstop. The 26-year-old missed the entire 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL and MCL early in spring training. He hit .276/.346/.399 with six homers and seven steals across 471 plate appearances in 2022. There was plenty of hype surrounding Lux going into last season after he reportedly spent time at Driveline and saw an increase in bat speed. Going at pick 270 in early NFBC drafts, Lux could be an intriguing late sleeper if he’s maintained those gains and can hold the everyday role, as anyone in that lineup can fall into plenty of counting stats.