SEATTLE -- The Mariners wanted to draft Jarred Kelenic back in 2018 before he wound up going to the Mets with the No. 6 overall pick.
But that wound up being no matter for Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto, who acquired the standout outfielder six months later in a blockbuster trade that sent Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz to the Mets -- a move that signaled a massive shift in Seattle's focus toward its pipeline. Kelenic (pronounced KELL-nick) blossomed into MLB Pipeline's No. 4 overall prospect and made his MLB debut in 2021 as the Mariners made their most significant playoff push in years.
Regardless of how Kelenic pans out, the move by Dipoto to move Canó's money off the books can't be overstated -- especially given the eight-time All-Star's full-season suspension in 2021 for performance-enhancing drugs. Kelenic also possesses off-the-charts potential and represents a key part of the Mariners' rebuild.
Here's where that trade ranks among the rest of the very best in Mariners history:
1. Bringing in the Big Unit
Mariners got from Expos: LHP Randy Johnson, RHP Gene Harris, RHP Brian Holman
Mariners gave up: LHP Mark Langston, RHP Mike Campbell
Date: May 25, 1989
The Mariners didn't know quite what they were getting when general manager Woody Woodward dealt All-Star southpaw and staff ace Langston and a player to be named (Campbell) to Montreal for a trio of pitchers, but it turned out to be a heist as a lanky 25-year-old with 11 Major League games and a 4.69 ERA on his resume turned into one of the greatest pitchers in Mariners -- and MLB -- history. The Hall of Fame lefty wound up going 130-74 with a 3.42 ERA, earning five All-Star berths and a Cy Young Award in 10 seasons in Seattle. Holman was a solid three-year starter for the Mariners and Harris pitched four seasons out of the bullpen, but the Big Unit clearly turned into the prize in a deal where the Mariners gave up just four months of Langston, who went 12-9 with a 2.39 ERA in 24 starts for the Expos before becoming a free agent.
2. Sending away the Kid
Mariners got from Reds: CF Mike Cameron, RHP Brett Tomko, INF Antonio Perez, RHP Jake Meyer
Mariners gave up: CF Ken Griffey Jr.
Date: Feb. 10, 2000
In a deal that rocked Mariners fans, new GM Pat Gillick got what he could from the Reds after Griffey made it clear he wanted out after 11 seasons in Seattle. And considering Griffey controlled where he could be shipped, thanks to his 10-5 rights, Gillick wound up getting a pretty good return for the best player in franchise history. Cameron wound up being a popular replacement in center, earning a pair of Gold Gloves and an All-Star berth in four seasons in Seattle and playing a key role on the 116-win club in 2001. Tomko pitched two seasons for the Mariners, while the other two never made the big league club. Griffey, of course, eventually wound up returning to Seattle for two final seasons before retiring.
3. Kelenic, Dunn netted in Big Apple blockbuster
Mariners got from Mets: OF Jarred Kelenic, RHP Justin Dunn, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak, RHP Gerson Bautista,
Mariners gave up: 2B Robinson Canó, RHP Edwin Díaz
Date: Dec. 3, 2018
At the time, it didn't seem likely this deal -- made in an effort to gain youth and financial flexibility -- would make such a list, considering the star power Dipoto dealt: one of the game's premier players in Canó and a closer in Díaz who was coming off a near-MLB-record 57-save season. With the luxury of hindsight, Dipoto might deserve more credit for shedding the five years and $120 million owed to Canó, now 38, than he does for acquiring Kelenic, whose value may be tied more to his high floor than his ceiling. Dipoto also netted starting pitching prospect Justin Dunn, who has since turned into a foundational piece of the rotation.
4. Age didn't matter
Mariners got from Red Sox: LHP Jamie Moyer
Mariners gave up: OF Darren Bragg
Date: July 30, 1996
Another gem for Woodward, whose midseason pickup of a much-traveled 33-year-old Moyer turned into 11 years of misery for opposing teams as the soft-tossing lefty went 145-87 with a 3.97 ERA in 324 games. Moyer had a pair of 20-plus-win seasons for Seattle and held the club record for wins until eventually being surpassed by Felix Hernandez more than a decade later. Bragg was a solid outfielder for 2 1/2 seasons for Boston, but Moyer became a Mariners Hall of Famer.
5. Big haul for the Big Unit
Mariners got from Astros: RHP Freddy Garcia, SS Carlos Guillen, LHP John Halama
Mariners gave up: LHP Randy Johnson
Date: July 31, 1998
Johnson not only was a coup for Woodward when he was acquired, he wound up paying off again on his way out as the Mariners acquired three young players who became key components in their playoff teams in 2000 and 2001 in exchange for two months of Johnson before he hit free agency. Garcia was a two-time All-Star and went 76-50 in six seasons for Seattle, while Halama went 41-31 in four seasons and Guillen spent the first six years of a solid 14-year MLB career with the Mariners.
6. Good to the Bone
Mariners got from Yankees: OF Jay Buhner, RHP Rick Balabon
Mariners gave up: DH Ken Phelps, RHP Troy Evers
Date: July 21, 1988
Buhner was a well-regarded 23-year-old prospect with the Yankees who'd hit 31 homers the previous season in Triple-A, but they gave him up for the more-established bat of Phelps. Bad move for George Steinbrenner, who eventually wound up getting roasted in a Seinfeld episode for the lopsided deal as Buhner became a Mariners Hall of Famer with an outstanding 13-plus-year career in Seattle, while Phelps played just two mediocre seasons in the Bronx before being traded to the A's for Minor Leaguer Scott Holcomb.
7. Quite a catch
Mariners got from Reds: C Dan Wilson, RHP Bobby Ayala
Mariners gave up: 2B Bret Boone, RHP Erik Hanson
Date: Nov. 2, 1993
Woodward gave up a young Boone -- who later returned to Seattle for his prime years -- and a quality pitcher in Hanson in his final year before free agency, and landed a franchise institution in Wilson in return. Wilson wound up catching 12 seasons in Seattle and was a key member of all four of their playoff clubs in that run, eventually becoming a Mariners Hall of Famer and an integral part of the community. Ayala wound up as an oft-criticized closer, but he did save 56 games for Seattle and pitched in 292 games over five seasons.
Dipoto quickly showed his willingness to wheel and deal, but his most significant trade in his initial seasons in Seattle came when he acquired Haniger and Segura, who both became American League All-Stars in their second years with the Mariners.
9. Quantity counts for something
Mariners got from Mets: LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Aaron Heilman, OF Endy Chavez, 1B Mike Carp, OF Ezequiel Carrera, RHP Maikel Cleto
Mariners got from Indians: CF Franklin Gutierrez
Mariners gave up to the Mets: RHP J.J. Putz, RHP Sean Green, OF Jeremy Reed
Mariners gave up to the Indians: INF Luis Valbuena
Date: Dec. 11, 2008
GM Jack Zduriencik wasted no time making a blockbuster at his first Winter Meetings, pulling off a three-team, 12-player deal that landed some pretty key players for Seattle. Gutierrez wound up playing seven seasons in the outfield for the Mariners, Vargas was a solid piece in the rotation for four years and Chavez and Carp saw some playing time as well. While Putz had been an All-Star closer for the Mariners, he struggled in one season for the Mets before becoming a free agent.
Zduriencik made an outstanding deal to land Lee -- one of the game's top lefties -- for three Minor Leaguers who never made a dent with the Phillies. Lee was available because he was entering his final season before free agency, and he went 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts before the Mariners flipped him to the Rangers along with reliever Mark Lowe in July for first baseman Justin Smoak, right-handers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke and infielder Matt Lawson. That haul didn't turn out as well as hoped, but Lee was a rental player and the Mariners really didn't give up much to get him in the first place.