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Update: the Rays and James Loney agree to a one-year deal

Dec 3, 2012, 8:34 AM EDT

James Loney Getty Images

UPDATE: Jon Heyman reports that the deal is done. The Rays have signed James Loney to a one-year, $2 million deal with incentives which could land him an extra million.

1:25 AM: Those hoping the Rays would land a big bopper at first base this winter appear set to be disappointed. Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports that the team is close to a deal with free agent James Loney.

Loney, 28, was one of the game’s worst players last season, hitting .249/.293/.336 in 434 at-bats for the Dodgers and Red Sox. He hasn’t posted an 800 OPS since hitting .331/.381/.538 in 344 at-bats for the Dodgers in 2007.

The money might not be significant enough to prevent the Rays from acquiring another first baseman to play over Loney. Still, it’s entirely possible that he’ll be their primary starter against right-handers, replacing free agent Carlos Pena. Moves like this do have a way of working out for the Rays, and Loney is perhaps young enough to surprise. He did flash some talent in the second half of 2011, hitting .320/.380/.534 in 206 at-bats.

  1. cur68 - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Loney? Really? Ok. Fine. Good luck to him and The Rays. Kid might turn into a decent hitter this season, you never know.

  2. brewcrewfan54 - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    If James Shields is still a Ray at the end of the week its safe to say his nickname of “Big Game James” will be safe.

  3. indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    Loney? Oh, lordy, I hope this isn’t true. This guy’s line is bad, although the Rays have been successful without much production from 1B. Bowden is also reporting that the Rays are in talks with the Nats for Morse and Espinosa for a starter.

    • Francisco (FC) - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      Sally, time to make another sacrifice to the altar, something is out of whack!

      • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

        You’re right. There is a flaw in my shrine. I bought a yellow novena candle for it this weekend. I better start burning it.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      All right, Rays!

  4. 13arod - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    every time tampa signs somebody that didnt have a good year they have one of their best sesons

    • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      Rays tend to have more luck with signing pitchers than hitters.

      • seattlej - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:30 AM

        Casey Kotchman

      • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:30 AM

        Alright, alright. Got me on that one. He had an uncharacteristically good year with the Rays. But Luke Scott, Pat Burrell, Carlos Pena.

      • jashton11 - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM

        Freak injury aside, Keppinger didn’t work out too badly either.

      • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:06 PM

        Yeah. I think I suffered from a bit of selective memory. The smaller free agent signings seem to do ok. It’s the “big” signings, by Rays standards, that tend to not work.

  5. paperlions - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    This may be a sneaky-good signing. Loney won’t be a great offensive player, he hit into a lot of bad luck last year (BABIP of .269, previous career BABIP ~ .310, which is roughly league average), if he returns to his typical .340 OBP, .400 SLG, and good-to-great defense, that comes out to an average 1B on the cheap.

    • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM

      Yeah, I’m feeling a little better about this signing, if it’s true. His career numbers aren’t awful even if his 2012 was horrendous. I mean, look at his OPS+. It’s not the splash I was hoping for–more like a ripple in a pond–but he may work out.

  6. bostonboy82 - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Thank god! Thanks Tampa!!

  7. pdowdy83 - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Guess they are going for another round of Casey Kotchman, circa 2011, this year. It worked out pretty well for them last time but for a team that needs offense this seems a bit lackluster.

  8. raysfan1 - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    I posted last night that I thought the Rays would ultimately trade Shields for a pair of decent hitters and then sign a cheap FA closer to reporting time. They just picked up the cheap FA early. His stats indicate he has in some ways been kind of unlucky and can still actually hit a bit. He’s a good defensive 1B, so he won’t give runs away. I certainly wouldn’t center my offense around him but he’s an upgrade over Pena.

    • indaburg - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      I read what you wrote yesterday and you did call it. I’m feeling a little better about this guy.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Dec 3, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        Loney at $2 million for one season is a good signing. Loney’s got some gap ability if he can find his bat. His glove will save a few games.

        Last year, through arbitration, he made $7 million. That was funny.

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