Passan: Mariners should lock up Cal Raleigh next, but it won’t be easy

Aug 23, 2023, 9:22 AM | Updated: 9:25 am

Seattle Mariners Cal Raleigh...

Cal Raleigh of the Seattle Mariners hits a solo home run on Aug. 21, 2023. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Julio Rodríguez has received a lot of attention while the Seattle Mariners have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the last month and a half.

And for good reason. The young outfielder has been red-hot, setting an MLB record last week with 17 hits over four games and earning American League Player of the Week honors.

Passan: Julio Rodríguez currently ‘as good as a baseball player can be’

There’s another homegrown Mariners slugger who has been doing big things at the plate, however. That would be the “Big Dumper.”

Catcher Cal Raleigh has gotten into a good groove at the plate, smacking 13 home runs since the All-Star Break and eight in August. Raleigh leads all MLB catchers this season with 24 homers, and he led all backstops last year, too, with 27.

“Cal Raleigh has turned into, I don’t even know at this point who the right comparison for Cal Raleigh is,” ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan said during his Tuesday visit with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “It feels like Mickey Tettleton-ish at this point.”

Tettleton was a three-time Silver Slugger and two-time All-Star catcher in the 1980s and ’90s who, like Raleigh, was a switch-hitter with a lot of power. Tettleton hit 245 career home runs, including 30 or more in a season four different times.

Raleigh has certainly become the premier power-hitting catcher over these last two seasons, and this hot streak is a prime example of that.

“You don’t see catchers go on (runs of) 13 home runs in 33 games,” Passan said. “That’s not what they’re supposed to do.”

Additionally, Raleigh is lauded for his work behind the plate and with the Mariners’ pitching staff, which has been pretty darn good in 2023.

“He is the leader of arguably the best starting rotation in baseball. And going out there and putting up those offensive numbers, it’s been incredible,” Passan said.

Later during the discussion, Passan was asked which young Mariners player he would try and extend early, like the club did last year with Rodríguez. Before Brock Huard could even finish the question, Passan was saying Raleigh’s name.

“Would it be Cal ahead of (pitchers) Logan (Gilbert) and George (Kirby)?” Huard asked.

Replied Passan, ” Yes.”

Passan’s reasoning had a bit to do with the positions that Raleigh, Kirby and Gilbert all play.

“They’re pitchers, man. Pitchers scare me,” Passan said. “Almost every pitcher misses a year at some point. And also, I think there’s an order of operations here. If you have a catcher who everybody enjoys throwing to in place, is it not not going to make it more attractive for the pitchers to potentially sign those deals?”

While Passan would try his best to lock Raleigh up for the long haul, he shared that it may be easier said than done.

“I think Cal Raleigh is probably the least likely guy to sign because he’s represented by Scott Boras … and he is an agent whose clients tend not to do contracts before free agency. That’s just sort of how it goes,” Passan said. “But there have been situations – Carlos González, Jered Weaver, others – where pre-free agency deals have happened. On the other hand, I could see Gilbert and/or Kirby potentially extended this offseason. I think that is more of a realistic contract extension than Raleigh. But if I’m trying to lock guys up, I’m going for my position players and I’m going for my franchise catcher.”

Listen to the full discussion with Passan at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Tuesday: Rojas homers, Mariners beat White Sox 6-3 for 8th straight win
Mariners Roster Moves: Woo off IL, Hancock’s season done
Drayer: How the Mariners have turned into the AL’s hottest team
Mariners’ Dipoto discusses homegrown Julio and Raleigh thriving
What Dipoto said about Brash and Muñoz pitching the ninth for Seattle Mariners

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Passan: Mariners should lock up Cal Raleigh next, but it won’t be easy