Former Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather resigned from his position following his leaked chat with a local Rotary Club earlier in the month. Mather failed to cover himself in any glory following comments deriding his players and prospects in the organization. The comments about a Japanese player failing to learn English, as well as talking down about a Dominican prospect’s skills with the language “terrible” are they themselves terrible. There are two positives to take from the situation: This person is now no longer in charge of running a professional baseball team, and he openly admitted to manipulating top prospect’s service time.
The talks of service time manipulation in the sport have been a hot topic the last few years. Just last season, Chicago Cubs star and former MVP Kris Bryant lost his service time grievance against the Cubs after they had him make his debut just one day past when he would have had an entire season of MLB service time. Every team does it their own way. The MLB world was forced to wait for what seemed like an eternity on the debut of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. two seasons ago. Stashing top prospects who are ready to face big league opposition forced to stay in the minors past their due date. This is why the San Diego Padres should be applauded for how they handled Fernando Tatis Jr. He was given a chance to prove he belonged when he was ready and he made the most of it.
Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic will likely not make the Opening Day roster for a team in which he has a chance at being a starter in the outfield because of this manipulation; a fact that Mather himself admitted to. Mather said that even if they were hit by a COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, you would not see any of their top prospects be called up. Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson chimed in on the situation.
The Mariners finished two games back from the Houston Astros in 2020. Had they finished a game ahead of Houston, they would have snapped the longest postseason drought in North American professional sports. The CBA is set to expire in December of this year. A litany of topics will be discussed on both sides, with service time likely a big subject. The admission from the head of an organization that this goes on will be a huge boost for the player’s union. Mather is now gone from the Mariners, and Seattle and Major League Baseball will be better for it.