Rays "hopeful" of re-signing Loney
UPDATE, 3:20: Though Loney's new agents haven't been talking, Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan provided some framework for what Loney may be looking for based on this tweet: "James Loney started offseason seeking a four-year, $40M deal. Belief is he's now seeking something in the three-year, $27-30M range."
UPDATE, 2:29: Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman was much less specific on the pursuit of Loney:
"It's difficult for us to get into specifics. We're obviously looking for a first baseman. We need to figure out what we're going to do there,'' he said on a pre-winter meetings conference call. "But it's very premature to kind of speculate from our standpoint as to which direction we're going to go. What he meant to us last year, and the way he fit, has been very well documented. I just don't have a really good feel right now for how things are going to evolve.''
DEVELOPING: The Rays still need a first baseman, and team president Matt Silverman said this morning they are "hopeful" of re-signing free agent James Loney, who is also of considerable interest to the Pirates.
"He's someone that we're interested in, and he knows that,'' Silverman said this morning on WDAE-620 AM radio. "The good thing for us is he liked it here. 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.
"But I'm hopeful that he can be here. And if not, we're going to find another first baseman that fits us. It's been a revolving door for us for a number of years, and it's always nice to be able to solidify a positon, but if we can't we'll continue to search and figure out who our first baseman is going to be.''
If they can afford him, Loney indeed may be the Rays top target. He had a solid 2013 overall for the Rays, hitting .299 with 13 homers, 75 RBIs and a .778 OPS, and playing his usual dazzling defense, named a finalist for the Gold Glove award.
After making $6.375-million during a rough 2012 season with the Dodgers and Red Sox, Loney took a one-year, $2-million deal (with another $1-million in incentives) to reestablish his value with the Rays, and did just that.
While it's not clear what Loney is looking for, free agent Justin Morneau on Tuesday got a two-year deal for about $13-million from the Rockies. And Loney, 29, is younger and had a better season.
Other free agent options for the Rays, who would prefer a left-handed hitter, include: Corey Hart, Lyle Overbay, maybe Kevin Youkilis or Mark Reynolds. Trade possibiltiies include the Mets' Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, Texas' Mitch Moreland, Miami's Logan Morrison, the Angels' Mark Trumbo, Toronto's Adam Lind.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported today that Loney may be the Pirates top target.