This one’s been in the works for a little while now. The Tampa Bay Rays have inked first baseman James Loney to a one-year deal worth $2 million that could escalate to $3 million if he meets as-of-yet unnamed incentive marks. Loney will presumably take over at first base, though the Rays have to worried about that prospect as a team figuring to contend. Loney is still just 28, but his days as a prospect or even post-prospect are very much in the rear view mirror.
If there’s any solace to be taken in having James Loney as your first baseman, I guess it’s that he fields his position well. Loney has consistently been the recipient of high marks when it comes to advanced fielding metrics, and that’s a good thing considering his bat doesn’t work as the instructions on the box said it would. Loney’s career line sits at a pedestrian .282/.339/.419, but even those numbers don’t due his recent ineptitude as a first baseman justice.
The Dodgers finally bailed on Loney in that Adrian Gonzalez mega-deal last summer, and it’s not exactly hard to see why. Loney at least hit for high contact rates and batting average before tanking completely a year ago. He’s never been particularly wise when it comes to his approach at the plate, so Loney didn’t have any controllable on-base skills to fall back on when his batting average predictably dipped. Aside from not taking walks, Loney also has an alarming lack of power for a corner infielder who projected to at least flash gap muscle from time to time. It’s just not cool to have a first baseman who at any time could threaten to get on base at a rate below .300 and slug under .400 in the process. Loney’s a mess, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.