The Tampa Bay Rays have too many big decisions to make this offseason regarding the future of several players. One of those players is first baseman James Loney, who proved to be an asset for the organization in 2013. Why should the Rays make it a top priority to re-sign Loney?
For starters, the eight-year player posted one of the best seasons of his career. Not to mention, Tampa Bay simply does not have anyone else with as great of value as Loney to play first base next season.
The problem the Rays face is they have some big financial contributions to make to certain players, which means numerous other organizations will have a shot at signing Loney for a decent price. With that being said, there is no doubt Tampa Bay will do everything in their power to bring him back.
“I anticipate that there will be a decent amount of turnover,” executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said, according to the Tampa Tribune. “That being said, there are a decent amount of guys who are going to be free agents from our 2013 team that we would be interested in bringing back.”
The 29-year-old hit .299 with 13 home runs, 75 RBI, 33 doubles, 44 walks and a .348 on-base percentage in 598 plate appearances the past season.
The fact that Loney posted the highest batting average on the team among players with more than seven at-bats and was the second-best run producer means he is definitely not expendable. I understand the Rays have their hands full with a possible David Price trade and several free agents to re-sign. However, I do not see how Tampa Bay reaches the playoffs in 2014 without the help of Loney’s bat.