We've had a bit of time to think about the Luke Raley situation, and I still don't know what to think about it. The Mariners are definitely in a better spot than they were a week ago, but that's only part of the question to ask yourself when you are looking at this Mariners roster. Are they better than they were at the end of 2023?
A big part of that is going to start with Luke Raley (as well as Mitch Haniger), whether it is fair or not. You lost both of your starting corner outfielders this offseason, with Kelenic traded to the second best team in baseball with the Braves, and Teoscar signing with the best team in baseball with the Dodgers. It immediately creates giant holes in your lineup. Not necessarily because of the lost production, but due to the fact that there was a very thin in-house option to fill that gap.
Luke Raley has big time potential to fill a hole in the Mariners lineup
Enter Luke Raley, who is likely slotting in as your starting Left Fielder as you enter the 2024 season. Raley shone in Tampa in 2023, essentially getting to play his first full season in the bigs (he got 72 AB in 2021 with LAD and oddly enough 72 AB in 2022 with TB). With a .249/.333/.490, Raley provided some impressive production with a WRC+ of 130, adding 19 HR and 14 SB with 23 2B to top it off in just 406 AB, resulting in an fWAR of 2.6
Can he do it again, though? STEAMER doesn't think so.
2024 - .231/.312/.414, 17 HR, 9 SB, 15 2B, 102 G, 413 AB
You can see that it's definitely a step down from his numbers in Tampa. Fewer steals, fewer doubles, and a lower slash line all around. The lack of doubles really brings down the SLG, and it results in an OPS drop from .823 all the way to .726. That's a massive drop resulting in a WRC+ of just 105. Still above league average, but not by much. That's only a 1.1 fWAR as well, not nearly enough.
Is STEAMER going to be right? Was 2023 just a flash in the pan for someone who barely missed qualifying as a rookie? Or will the surprisingly (when healthy) good lineup that the Mariners have allow him to do some damage at the plate? Spring training is right around the corner, and I can almost smell the start of baseball season.