Jarred Kelenic and his agent believe the Seattle Mariners are manipulating the prospect's service time as punishment for not signing a long-term contract he was offered almost 14 months ago.
"It was communicated to Jarred that had he signed that contract, he would have debuted last year," Kelenic's agent Brodie Scoffield told Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. "It was made crystal clear to Jarred - then and now - that his decision not to call him up is based on service time.
"There's no question that if he signed that contract, he would have been in the big leagues."
The 21-year-old, who spent last season at the Mariners' alternate training site, was disappointed to learn he would not be called up to the majors because he refused the deal.
"It wasn't just communicated one time to me. It was told to me several times," Kelenic explained. "That's the God's honest truth. It got old."
On Tuesday, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto disputed that Kelenic's service time was intentionally manipulated after controversial comments by team president Kevin Mather became public. Mather said that none of the club's top prospects had a chance to be called up during the 2020 campaign and indicated Seattle planned to wait a month to call Kelenic up in 2021. He resigned from his position Monday after what he said about service time, among other things, drew the ire of players and the union.
Dipoto apologized to Mariners players Monday, assuring them that Mather's comments didn't reflect how the organization felt. The apology wasn't particularly well-received, according to Kelenic.
"It was literally like someone farted in church," the outfielder said. "That is the exact expression on everybody's face."
The players' union is looking into Kelenic's issue and could file a grievance against the Mariners, according to Nightengale.