The Tampa Bay Rays are coming into this week’s MLB Winter Meetings with a few holes to fill and they are close to filling their first one. The Rays and free agent first baseman James Loney are close to a deal. The Rays did not re-sign Carlos Pena making him a free agent and opening up the need for Loney to fill the position.
Loney was not re-signed by the Boston Red Sox at the end of the 2012 season. Loney was acquired by Boston in the trade that sent Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers for some prospects leaving Boston with a lot of payroll flexibility.
Loney is heading into his eighth season in the majors and has not been the power slugger that most scouts thought he could have been when he made his first appearances with the Dodgers. In his time spent between the Dodgers and the Red Sox, Loney has hit 73 home runs, recorded 459 RBI and has batted .282/.339/.419. Loney is a solid hitter and is a pretty good defensive first baseman. His ability to get on base and not strike out will benefit the Rays more than Pena’s trend of more than 100 strikeouts per season.
Loney does have an outside chance of re-signing with the Red Sox but with Adam LaRoche becoming more available, the consensus is that Boston will remain focused on him and free agent catcher Mike Napoli.