UPDATED: Deal in place for 1B Loney
UPDATED, 5:25: Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre offered a frank assessment of Loney, saying he is a great guy to have on a team but somewhat of an enigma on the field: "The only thing that always puzzled me is why can't this guy be a better player. It certainly wasn't from the lack of wanting to be and working at it - sometimes he got in his own way." Further, Torre said, "Defensively he's a plus and offensively he's a mystery.'' He also said Loney is a good personality to have in the clubhouse, has a wry sense of humor, was a bit like the Bernie Williams of the Dodgers teams. "You're going to love having him around,'' Torre said.
UPDATED, 5:21: Rays officials are unlikely to coment on the Loney deal, because it won't be official until after he takes a physical later this week.
UPDATED, 11:51: Here's a quick scouting report on Loney from an opposing coach: Got away from high OBP/line-drive approach, seemingly trying to hit more homers ... never got in a groove after trade ... better fielder than you think, but not much range .... power between Kotchman + Pena.
UPDATED, 8:46: : Loney comes at somewhat of a bargain, a one-year deal for $2-million with another $1-million in incentives, according to Bowden and CBS' Sports' Jon Heyman.
UPDATED, 8:23: Talks continued into the night and a deal is now in place, pending a physical.
BREAKING: The Rays were working on a deal early this morning to sign free-agent 1B James Loney.
Loney, 28, went from the Dodgers to the Red Sox last season as part of the massive trade that send Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to L.A. He hit .249 with six homers and 41 RBIs between the two teams, with a career-low .630 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Over the previous four seasons in Los Angeles, he averaged .281 with 12 homers and 83 RBIs with a .341 on-base percentage and .752 OPS. He is considered a solid defensive player.
The talks wth the 6-foot-3, 220-pound lefthanded hitter were first reported by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports and confirmed by the Times. ESPN"s Jim Bowden tweeted it will be a one-year deal.
Loney was a 2002 first-round pick of the Dodgers, finishing sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He made $6.375-million last season.
Also, add the Nationals to the list of teams the Rays reportedly are talking to regarding their surplus of starting pitching, with Bowden saying they are discussing OF Michael Morse and INF Danny Espinosa.