Brooks Raley Senseless Acquisition
The New York Mets acquired Brooks Raley from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Keyshawn Askew. It’s the type of trade where you really have to wonder what the Mets are doing.
First and foremost, you never trade with the Rays. That goes double when it comes to pitching. They always come up on top.
There may be a GM out there who will get the better of the Rays, but Billy Eppler is just about the least likely candidate. On the subject of Eppler, Naquin, and Ruf, Eppler has been far too cavalier trading prospects for moderate gains (if that).
Raley will turn 35 next season. In his career, he’s been a LOOGY, but we’re in the era of the three batter rule which neutralizes LOOGYS. In reality, it should make them an endangered species.
The counter is Raley was good against RHB last season, and that’s true. However, that came with a .281 BABIP. His career mark against RHP entering the season was .296.
That’s not too surprising with Park Factors rating Tropicana Field as an extreme pitchers park. Another factor is how well the Rays shift. On that note, there’s no more shifting next season.
Digging deeper, the 2022 season was an anomaly for Raley in total. It was his only season with an ERA lower than 3.94 and one of only two under 4.78. It was one one of his two seasons with an ERA+ higher than 94 and an FIP lower than 3.94.
Again, to buy this trade as a good idea, you’re buying he finally discovered it at 34 well past the prime of normal players. There is something to be said for his increased slider use, and it is a great slider.
Brooks Raley, Disgusting 83mph Slider. 🤮— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2022
19 inches of horizontal break. pic.twitter.com/c3cxSg5G49
However, batters and teams catch up over time. His 5.00 ERA over the last month of the season could be evidence of that already happening (or not).
Looked at another way, this is still a gamble. With pitchers like Andrew Chafin still available, Joey Lucchesi appearing ticketed to the bullpen, and Raley’s age, you really have to question the gamble.
There’s also the matter of Raley not wearing the Rays rainbow flag patch during Pride Night. Notably, Raley would not speak to the media personally about his decision.
We can have a whole debate about the stand inclusive of how Raley showed he’s not always going to follow organizational decisions. Beyond that is a very clear message the Mets sent to their fans.
Agree or disagree with Raley’s stance (which he couldn’t himself defend), the Mets made a clear message they don’t care about that portion of their fanbase. This is a far cry from when Steve Cohen removed the Chick-fil-A advertisements from the foul poles.
Again, was a 35 year old LOOGY in an era of the rules made against the use of LOOGYS worth sending that message to part of your fanbase?
There’s also the matter of Askew. He throws 95+ MPH, and he generates a high number of strikeouts (33.7 K%). Askew was an interesting and soon to be fast rising prospect. Instead, he’s gone to an organization who has a GM better equipped to analyze prospects.
In the end, the Mets gave up a lot for Raley. That’s in terms of prospect value and how fans view the team. Doing that for a reliever in his mid 30s with one good season in his career is highly suspect. In fact, it’s senseless. M