After a series of small moves early in the off-season, the Oakland Athletics have been fairly quiet since the beginning of December. The only transaction they've made since the Rule 5 draft is signing free agent reliever Trevor Gott.
There are a couple teams who have done less this winter, such as the Cubs, whose only major league transaction has been claiming catcher Brian Serven off waivers from the Rockies. But for all intents and purposes, the A's have been doing their best to keep the hot stove from really heating up.
The Mariners on the other hand had quite a day yesterday. The Athletics' division rivals made two significant trades, first dealing Robbie Ray to the Giants, then acquiring Luke Raley from the Rays.
We covered the Robbie Ray trade in depth yesterday. The Mariners sent Ray to San Francisco in exchange for Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani in a move that adds both salary and a substantial amount of injury risk. They followed that up by sending infielder Jose Caballero to Tampa for outfielder Luke Raley.
Mariners get better, Athletics remain stagnant
Raley had a breakout year in 2023 in his age 28 season. He hit .249/.333/.490 with 19 homers and 14 steals, good for a 130 wRC+. The 31.5% strikeout rate is a bit concerning and he's not a particularly good defensive outfielder, but the Mariners desperately need guys who can hit.
In Caballero, the Rays get a guy who didn't have a home in Seattle's infield, pushed out by the acquisition of Luis Urias earlier in the winter. Caballero debuted for the Mariners in 2023, hitting .221/.343/.320. He's a strong defender at second base, has enough versatility to play both short and third, and has good speed on the bases. He stole 26 bases in just 104 games last year.
The loss of Wander Franco to external issues meant the Rays were looking to add a major-league ready middle-infielder, and Caballero seems like a decent fit for the job. He'll likely find himself in some sort of platoon with Brandon Lowe, as the Rays are excellent at getting their players into favorable situations.
With both of these moves in the books, Seattle looks a bit stronger on paper than they did at the end of last year. Their lineup stretches a bit further, and since Ray is expected to miss potentially the entire first half of the year, the rotation doesn't take much of a hit immediately.
David Forst's job just got a bit more difficult, but realistically the Athletics weren't looking to compete for a playoff spot in 2024 anyway. The A's have a lot of work left to do if they want to be in that conversation.