The Seattle Mariners were eliminated from postseason contention on Saturday following their loss to the Texas Rangers and a Houston Astros victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Afterward, Seattle catcher Cal Raleigh expressed his belief that the Mariners would benefit from behaving more like the Rangers.
“We’ve got to commit to winning, we have to commit to going and getting those players you see other teams going out and getting — big-time pitchers, getting big-time hitters. We have to do that to keep up,” Raleigh told reporters, including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
Raleigh continued, saying “We’ve done a great job of growing some players here and within the farm system, but sometimes you’ve got to go out and you have to buy,” as well as noting “you look at the other locker room, they’ve added more than anybody else and you saw where it got them this year.”
The Rangers have indeed been one of the most aggressive buyers in recent years. They’ve signed Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jacob deGrom to massive free-agent contracts, and this deadline they traded for Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery, and Aroldis Chapman to further bolster their chances of winning their first American League West crown since 2016.
The Mariners, comparatively, had a lower Opening Day payroll this season than they did at any point from 2015-19. Their most notable deadline deal saw them trade away closer Paul Sewald, albeit in exchange for a package that included infielder Josh Rojas, who has posted a 107 OPS+ with Seattle. Raleigh expressed frustration with that move, saying that the Mariners “lost a few close games, later in the game, and we could’ve used him.” Sewald notched a 124 ERA+ with the playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks.
Furthermore, owner John Stanton has already hedged at the idea of making a meaningful pursuit of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani this winter.
“We focus on developing great players. We believe that the best player for us over time is going to be a young player that we’re able to have all the way through our system and develop,” Stanton said in early August. “We will look at free agents every offseason to fill needs. From our point of view, Ohtani is the unicorn. We’ll clearly look at him, we’ll clearly be in the conversation. But I think we’ve got a great team with or without him.”
To be fair, the Mariners did make the kind of splash Raleigh desired at the 2022 deadline, acquiring ace Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. They also signed Robbie Ray, then the reigning American League Cy Young Award recipient, to a five-year contract prior to the 2022 season. Ray, unfortunately, missed nearly the entire 2023 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May.
Still, you can’t blame Raleigh for looking at the other dugout with envy. If only because those Rangers will be playing into October; his Mariners will not.