‘Like someone farted in church’

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The Seattle Mariners are trying to clean up the mess of Kevin Mather, the team president who resigned after making offensive comments about foreign-born players and admitted to engaging in service-time manipulation, specifically in regard to former Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic.

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto apologized to the players Monday for Mather’s array of insensitive remarks, but the attempt didn’t quite land.

“Strange,” Kelenic told USA Today. “It was literally like someone farted in church. That is the exact expression on everybody’s face.”

Kelenic, 21, is widely considered one of the top-five prospects in baseball, but Mather said on a Zoom call to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club that the Mariners wanted to get the outfielder “a few more at-bats in the minor leagues” after revealing Kelenic turned down a long-term contract offer. Mather also said the team wasn’t going “start the service time clock” of young players by bringing them up late last season. The manipulation admission by Mather has drawn rebuke from big-league players, including Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and Mets outfielder Michael Conforto.

Kelenic and his agent, Brodie Scoffield, confirmed to USA Today that Kelenic declined to sign a contract extension about 14 months ago, and they believe he’s being punished for it. Scoffield said the Mariners told Kelenic he would’ve made his MLB debut in 2020 had he signed the deal.

Jarred Kelenic Mariners Kevin Mather
Jarred Kelenic
Getty Images

“It wasn’t just communicated one time to me. It was told to me several times,” Kelenic told the paper. “That’s the God’s honest truth. It got old.”

Dipoto declined comment to USA Today about Kelenic’s statement. Dipoto told reporters earlier Tuesday that Kelenic would only be kept in the minors for development purposes.

Seattle finished the truncated 2020 season 27-33, two games behind the Houston Astros for a playoff berth. Kelenic says he knows “for a fact” he could’ve helped the Mariners during their postseason push.

“Not to be given that opportunity was so beyond frustrating,” said Kelenic, whom the Mets drafted No. 6 overall in 2018 before trading him in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz deal. “I feel that guys should be rewarded for their play, and have the best guys on the field, especially when you talk about a team that hasn’t gone to the playoffs in 20 years, and your best prospects are just sitting there watching.”

Kelenic says he’s now “more motivated” to try to win a championship in Seattle, but it’s clear it’s going to take more than an apology to repair the damage that’s been done.

“The reason I was so disappointed and frustrated about this whole thing,’’ Kelenic told the paper, “is that everybody already knows there’s a gap between the front office and players. When something like this comes out, it makes that gap bigger.

“It makes winning that much more difficult. I thought we were in a positive direction with the team moving forward, building a culture, and when this comes out, it widened that gap.”

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