Every year, it seems like Jerry Dipoto makes a trade for a player that no one saw coming. Luis Castillo shocked us, so did the haul from the Padres for France+Munoz+Torrens+Trammell so long ago. Then there was the Teo deal, albeit a short live stint with the Mariners. The newest addition to that list involved the Rays, who many a fan thought a deal would happen with, but no one expected the player in return in Luke Raley.
Raley comes to the Mariners after a breakout season with Tampa, and he brings an incredibly intriguing power/speed combo to Seattle. In just 357 AB across 118 G, he hit 19 bombs while swiping 14 bases, while slashing an impressive .249/.333/.490. The K rate is concerning, but when it comes to the world of fantasy baseball, that doesn't matter in standard leagues.
Similar to the reasons that Haniger could provide sneaky value, Raley falls in the same boat. He is going to see a lot of ABs for the Mariners, slotting in as their main LF most likely, while taking some reps at RF, DH, and 1B possibly as well. Wherever he plays, he is likely going to approach that 135 G and 500 AB mark. If so, he's going to be pushing into the 20/20 realm, which has a lot of value in fantasy for the multi-category impact.
Funny enough, Raley is real close to Haniger on the rankings, sitting in the low-mid 80s for OF. If he is going to play all season for the Mariners, he is going to finish a lot higher than that. Check out last season when he was ranked 340th. You increase those ABs alongside an impact lineup spot (3/4/5 possibly) and he could finish as high as an Ian Happ at 125 down to a Tommy Pham at 230. Happ was 29th, and Pham was 49th.
Shoot, you wanna get wild, and you could say he finishes with a Spencer Steer line. That's a big ask, especially in the average department, but the possibility for strong numbers from those AB's and lineup slot could get him into the top 100. A late round pick for a top 20 OF? I know it sounds a lot like what I said with Haniger, but the same thought process applies. Especially if you have JP and Julio on base ahead of them.
If you're like me and like taking fliers on those tempting speed+power combo guys, Raley is the hot ticket in that realm for 2024. I'd even be tempted to take him early enough to slot him as a legit 3rd OF. There is a bit more risk if he struggles, but the upside is wonderful. The increase in R+RBI and ABs could make him a top 60 guy if everything goes perfectly.
Take Raley, root for the newest Mariners OF, and watch him thrive in the opportunity given with guys like JP, Julio, Garver, Haniger, and Dumper around him in the lineup. I think it's worth the risk for sure.