Mariners' fans seem to be overlooking one of their newly acquired outfielders

After a big facelift to the lineup in the offseason, many a fan seems to be overlooking one of the outfielders they acquired to bolster the lineup

Apr 15, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; First base with the Jackie Robinson Day logo during the
Apr 15, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; First base with the Jackie Robinson Day logo during the / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm old (I sure hope not). Maybe I'm not putting enough importance on Spring Training games. All of those could be in play as the Mariners' 2024 Opening Day approaches, and I think it's worth talking about as one of their newest outfielders is being overlooked by many a fan with the season right around the corner.

I'm talking about Luke Raley. Julio Rodriguez in center is a no-doubter. He's the man and will be until he gives it up... hopefully in like 2038 or something. Then, you have what sounds like 3 guys for two spots. Most fans and pundits seem to think that one of those spots will be Mitch Haniger. It's what fans want, hoping for a resurgence from Mitch to bring back the glory days he exhibited before.

Are Mariners fans discounting Luke Raley?

Mitch Garver is going to be the DH, so that's another spot that is taken up for any potential rotations in the outfield, although Haniger will see time there as well, just not as much. The other two players seem to be Dominic Canzone and Luke Raley now that Cade Marlowe was reassigned to AAA earlier in the week.

While Canzone is having a great Spring Training, I can't help but feel like, well, it's Spring Training. Yes, he's doing well. He also has an opponent rating of 7.5, which fits square in the middle of AA and AAA opponents. Raley is doing worse against a worse opponent rating, true. Raley also had a 126 OPS+ last season with 19 HR, 14 SB, and a .249/.333/.490 slash line. Canzone, meanwhile, hit .215/.248/.407 for the Mariners, albeit in just 135 AB after coming over in the Sewald trade.

Now, Canzone has come into camp having put on muscle and looking to be in fantastic shape. Maybe an offseason with the Mariners' staff, and the knowledge that he is on the MLB roster gave him that kick and he is going to step up. Maybe I'm just wrong on Raley, but it seems like the Mariners acquired Raley to be the starter at one of the outfield spots. At minimum, as a platoon option. He mostly did that in Tampa, but still hit lefties well in 41 AB with a .268/.302/.439 slash.

Maybe the Mariners are going to go with a platoon somewhere, but it doesn't seem like Raley and Canzone would make sense there. Maybe they take turns filling in for Haniger when RHP are on the mound, since they are both lefties. Maybe the Mariners have something different in store that we don't have a grasp on yet.

It's a lot of maybes... but this team in general seems to be for 2024. It's likely the best lineup and arguably roster that we have seen in a long time in Seattle, but it also comes with the highest injury risk of one that we have seen as well. Matt Brash, Gregory Santos, Jorge Polanco, Luis Urias, Mitch Haniger, Mitch Garver... that's a lot of players you are depending on who are either already hurt or have a concerning injury history.

Even though Raley really only has 2023 under his belt with a healthy amount of playing time, it was a successful season. If Canzone can keep hitting well and earns the starting nod, more power to him. Shoot, that just means that the Mariners have a great outfielder out there that they snagged in a trade for a reliever who only had 1.5 years left on his contract. For now, it seems like the job belongs to Luke Raley, and that he is being overlooked. Let's hope that he can push for a 20/20 season for the Mariners, and hit in line with what he did last year in Tampa for the Rays.