While the Rays are searching for a first baseman, James Loney is still at the top of their list.
“He’s someone that we’re interested in and he knows it,” Rays team president Matt Silverman told WDAE-620 on Wednesday morning, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “The good thing for us is he liked it here.”
As the Rays keep Loney on their radar, money may keep the Rays from being able to re-sign Loney.
Source: James Loney started offseason seeking a four-year, $40M deal. Belief is he’s now seeking something in the three-year, $27-30M range.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2013
Silverman addressed this issue during his interview on WDAE-620 by saying, “We liked him, he fit in well. And we’re a known quantity. When he’s thinking about other things out there, he won’t know what the other clubhouses are like, he won’t know what it’s like living in that city. And so that gives us a little bit of an advantage. Our wallet isn’t as big as other teams’, so that’s one disadvantage for us.”
Loney certainly fit in well with the Rays, having a solid season while hitting .299 with 13 home runs and 75 RBI. The first baseman also became an integral part of the Rays’ defense, posting a .995 fielding percentage and being nominated for a Gold Glove Award.
The Rays signed Loney in 2013 as a reclamation project, giving him a one-year, $2M deal after his difficult 2012 season, which he spent with both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. Between 114 games with the Dodgers and 30 games with the Red Sox, he hit just .249 with only 6 homers and 41 RBI, reducing his value on the open market to almost nothing. But the Rays showed faith in him, and he turned out to be their latest low-cost signing that paid major dividends to their success. If the money worked out, the Rays would love to have Loney back. Whether that will happen, though, is a major question.
The rumors continue to circulate about who is pursuing Loney, and while it was nice to hear the Rays were interested, another team has their eyes on Loney as well.
With baseball’s winter meetings beginning on Monday in Orlando, the Rays can examine their options and decide their course of action. Only time will tell if the Rays’ pockets are deep enough to keep Loney around or whether they will be forced to find a more economical player.