Braves plan for newly-acquired Jarred Kelenic surprisingly involves Vaughn Grissom

The Atlanta Braves traded for Jarred Kelenic on Sunday. Now, he's set to compete for reps with a key prospect.

Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners
Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners / Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves swung a major trade on Sunday, acquiring OF Jarred Kelenic, LHP Marco Gonzales, and 1B Evan White from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Cole Phillips and RHP Jackson Kowar. On the surface, it's a simple plug-and-play trade for the Braves, as Kelenic addresses their left field concerns following Eddie Rosario's departure.

In comments at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, however, Alex Anthopoulos left the door open for competition in left field. The Braves' GM cited Vaughn Grissom has a potential option at the Braves' primary position of need. Grissom bats right, while Kelenic bats left, so there's potential for a platoon to develop.

Anthopoulos went on to note that Atlanta is done addressing left field, so there's clearly confidence a suitable option will emerge from the current roster.

Braves will have Vaughn Grissom and Jarred Kelenic compete for left field reps

Vaughn Grissom has been a source of great anxiety for the Braves fanbase. He's an immense talent at the plate. He absolutely crushes the competition in Triple-A, and it's clear he deserves a full-time MLB job somewhere. The problem is, the Braves are brimming with infield depth. Grissom is a natural shortstop, but he was a total disaster in the field last season. He committed six errors in 19 games at short, posting -7 defensive runs saved.

Not great, Bob.

One solution is to trade Grissom, allowing another team to pinpoint his ideal position or shoehorn him into the DH slot. Grissom has been pitched as a prime trade asset for another starting pitcher, such as Chicago's Dylan Cease or Cleveland's Shane Bieber. Both teams could be in the market for a young, cost-controlled bat.

The other solution, aside from living with copious mistakes at shortstop, is to put Grissom in left field and hope for the best. It limits the concerns tied to his defensive limitations and it allows Atlanta to get his bat in the game more frequently.

As for Kelenic, he's in a somewhat similar position to Grissom. He's not terribly great in the field, but he's 24 years old with a very intriguing offensive profile. His sweet-spot percentage of 38.8 last season landed in the MLB's 91st percentile, per Baseball Savant. He's in the 73rd percentile for hard-hit percentage and the 75th percentile for exit velocity. His basic splits don't jump off the page — .253/.327/.419 with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs in 372 ABs — but he's a recent first-round pick with major power-hitting potential. The Braves' hitting development tends to work miracles.

Atlanta should feel good about Kelenic and Grissom as a platoon, with both offering enough offensive pop to offset defensive concerns. Michael Harris II is a defensive world-beater in centerfield, so the hope is that he helps clean up the occasional mess.

The Braves are betting on offense here. It has worked in the past. Grissom is clearly an MLB talent, and this is a potentially creative way to ensure he sticks with the big-league club in 2024.

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