First baseman James Loney and the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a three-year, $21 million extension on Friday, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that the deal is pending a physical. Loney has drawn interest from multiple teams this offseason.
Loney, 29, hit to a slash line of .299/.348/.430 (118 OPS+) with 13 home runs and 75 RBI. Loney posted career-highs (min. 500 PA) in batting average and OPS in 2013 with the Rays. The durable Loney (the last injury Loney had was in 2010; he missed one game) played well for in 2013, which is a big reason the Rays want him back for an extended amount time. Loney also posted a 2.7 WAR and a .326 BABIP last season.
Over his career, Loney has hit .285/.340/.421 in eight years between the Dodgers (2006-2012), Red Sox (2012), and Rays (2013-Present). He has been a reliable first baseman, posting a .994 fielding percentage over his career, a tick higher than the league average of .993. His reliability on both offense and defense makes Loney invaluable to his teams. In 2013, Loney really broke out, playing much better than he had in the past. From 2008-2012, Loney posted a .276/.333/.399 slash line with a 99 OPS+, 1% below the league average. In 2013, Loney's slash line of .299/.348/.430 (118 OPS+), gave him an OPS 46 points higher (.778) than his .732 mark in that time frame.
A good signing for the Rays, as they will be able to retain the first baseman that really came alive last season. They are comfortable with him in the lineup, and he seemed comfortable with Tampa Bay. He was given a role that he was able to fill and exceed expectations at, one that he now will be able to keep through the 2016 season.
With Loney now no longer on the first base market, expect the trade markets for Ike Davis and other first baseman to heat up.
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