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Rays would like to bring James Loney back if he lowers his price

Dec 7, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT

James Loney AP

First baseman James Loney had a career rebirth of sorts in 2013 with the Rays and the team would like to bring him back, but not at his current asking price, reports Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Loney is currently seeking a three-year, $27 million deal.

If the Rays have to search for a first baseman elsewhere, the free agent market is rather barren at the position. Corey Hart, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, and Kevin Youkilis are at the top of the list. Topkin suggests the Rays might be more motivated to make a trade, particularly because they would like a left-handed hitting first baseman. Among the lefty first basemen that could be acquired in a trade: Logan Morrison, Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind, and Justin Smoak.

As for Loney, he finished 2013 with a .778 OPS, his highest mark since 2007. He also finished with 2.7 WAR (per Baseball Reference), matching a career-best. Loney had joined the Rays on a one-year, $2 million deal but now that he has boosted his value, the 29-year-old is seeking both a significant raise and a multi-year contract.

  1. sandrafluke2012 - Dec 7, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    ROLF. A 1b who has never had a 800 ops wants 27 million? hahahah. I’d rather have a Dan Johnson/ Sean Rodriguez platoon for 1 mill

  2. stevedubs11 - Dec 7, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    trade Price to Seattle for Smoak and Walker maybe? or take Logan Morrison. The Marlins are already offering him on the trade-block.

    • paperlions - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:05 AM

      Smoak is horrible.

      • gdobs227 - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:32 AM

        So is Morrison.

      • spudchukar - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:36 AM

        He is even worse than that. But Cory Hart could be an asset.

    • spudchukar - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:39 AM

      Yeah, the Rays are going to require a lot more than Smoak and Walker to get Price. Even if they added Franklin I don’t think it gets done. Probably need to include a bull pen arm and a lower level promising prospect to get Price.

  3. hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Friedman isn’t goint to overpay for a first baseman coming off a career year, that was still only a little better than internal options. Friedman recently said that he doesn’t just need prospects for Price. Someone locked into a team friendly deal would also work for. I wonder if he was talking about a player like Rizzo?

    Rizzo and Soler for Price and Joyce.

    • spudchukar - Dec 8, 2013 at 1:07 AM

      That won’t do it either. The Rays aren’t moving Price for a minor upgrade at first and one talented but future prospect. They are looking to improve their team in 2014, and adding Rizzo and losing Price certainly wouldn’t do that.

      • hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 1:18 AM

        There is no trade out there that makes them better in 2014 by trading Price. Price is a 4.5 WAR player. They aren’t getting a 5 WAR player in return. In Rizzo, they get a lot of potential at a modestly low price. In Soler, they get a lot of potential at a modestly low price.

        I think teams learned their lesson from the Myers deal, and won’t deal premier MLB ready talent for Price. I don’t believe the Taijuan rumors or Garret Cole rumors. Rizzo is an underachiever on a team friendly deal, who I think could headline a deal.

      • spudchukar - Dec 8, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        I too doubt the Pirates would move Cole, but if you think the Mariners wouldn’t include Walker you are fooling yourself. The Mariners need to make a splash now, and if it means including Walker they would, it is just how many other prospects, including Franklin it would take to make the trade.

        But the Rays are in for the “now” too. And won’t make the deal unless they get MLB ready young cheap players in return. It wouldn’t kill them to hand on to Price until 2015. They will get more than Meyers for Price, he is younger, cheaper, and better than Shields.

      • flatsorter - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        The Rays plan on replacing Price with a pitcher that they hope will probably have a positive WAR, so they will not lose 4.5. Right now, they don’t have a 1st baseman, so anything over a 0 would be an improvement. So trading Price for a 1st baseman with a 2.5 WAR (along with prospects) would improve the team.

      • spudchukar - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        Yeah, they won’t make a deal unless they get 2 MLB ready guys, and a couple of significant prospects. The Rays are in a win-now mode, while still stockpiling prospective players.

        No sense in moving Price in 2014, unless they receive pieces they believe will help them this year.

    • paperlions - Dec 8, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      While that may be close to fair value for 2 years of Price, who won’t be cheap either year. That isn’t anything the Cubs should be interested in since they aren’t competing this year anyway. No reason to give up cheap talent in their situation. I doubt the Cubs have any interest whatsoever in Price. The Market for Price won’t be huge. A team would have to have:

      1) elite prospects near the majors or elite talent on a team friendly deal

      2) Money to spend on Price

      3) Need at SP

      4) Be in win now mode

      That list of teams won’t be very long.

      • hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        I agree that the cubs shouldn’t be in on him, but I have heard grumblings of trading Samardzija, and using what they get for him, plus a little more to land Price. It gives Theo 2 years to lock up Price. After last year’s stint on the DL, Price may be a little more open to an extension.

        I think the Cubs fit everything but #4 on your list. Friedman specifically said talent on a team friendly deal. That list isn’t very long. Rizzo, Goldschmidt, Braun, Cutch, Sal Perez, Puig… Cutch isn’t going anywhere. Perez isn’t going anywhere. Puig isn’t going anywhere. Braun, even though team friendly, is too pricey. I just think there is a reason he said what he said, this late in the game. Maybe he’s had conversations. He likely won’t trade with the Jays, O’s, Yankees, and Sox. Maybe the Cubs would though. You know Theo would love to stick it to the Rays, who got him run out of town, and the Sox, the team that ran him out of town.

      • paperlions - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        Price is going to be a FA unless a team way overpays him. Why give up valuable commodities to pay him $30M during 2 years in which you won’t be competitive, when you can just wait until he’s a FA and pay the same money you’d have to pay anyway but get to keep all of your talent?

        From a timeline and decision making perspective, it just doesn’t make sense…and with the crazy pitching market for back of the rotation starters, even the risk of injury shouldn’t be enough to get Price to sign before hitting the market.

      • hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 7:10 PM

        You look through the annual most valuable trade asset players every year, and not a single one was signed to a free agent deal. If Price was a free agent right now, I could see Ellsbury type money. Maybe he isn’t willing to sign a Longoria/McCutchen deal (borderline incompetent agents), but maybe he would sign a Cain/Verlander type deal, ie. leaving money on the table for a guaranteed huge contract. I’m sure the Rays didn’t offer him the contract the Cubs can, but I’m also sure if he sees free agency, he’ll be the best free agent pitcher since Sabathia. The Cubs will now have to outbid the Yankees, the Red Sox, and anyone else who wants to spend some of that new TV money.

        Epstein traded for Gonzo 1 year before his free agency year, and gave up the top prospect in Rizzo to be able to do it. Different situation, as the Cubs won’t compete next year, but in 2015, why not? That system is loaded. Maybe he’d do it again.

  4. dylanthom2013 - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    My Rangers might dangle Moreland with Fielder in the fold. Won’t hit for average but has monster power and is great defensively, and is cheap and relatively young. He can also play corner OF in a pinch. I’d rather keep him actually so he can give Fielder the odd rest day at 1B (Moreland’s otherwise ticketed for DH).

  5. dylanthom2013 - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Maybe Trumbo. ANA needs starting pitching and TB seems to have a ton of good starting pitching prospects.

  6. spc7ray - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    why not Eithier–straight up? maybe a pitching prospect–not Zach Lee–but money would be good

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