How Much Bargaining Power Does James Loney Have?

Yesterday the Seattle Mariners added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, then claimed they would use both first base options in the outfield. That removed two first base options from the market, leaving the Pirates, Brewers, and the Rays to decide between James Loney, Ike Davis, and Mitch Moreland.

Loney has been asking for three years and $27-30 M total. It would seem that he now has a ton of leverage to get such a deal. However, none of the three teams looking for a first baseman can afford that price. The Rays have already said they can’t afford Loney at his current asking price. The Pirates haven’t commented on him, but they have been rotating between Loney and other first base options. You would think that if they wanted to pay $9-10 M per year, they would have. There is also the idea that the Brewers could out-spend the Rays and Pirates, but Tom Haudricourt says that money is an issue with them.

In an article on the Brewers’ situation, Haudricourt says that they will look to make a deal soon at first base. They are meeting with the Mets today to discuss Ike Davis. Previously the Mets asked for right-handed pitcher Tyler Thornburg, but the Brewers balked at the deal.

As for the Rays, they were looking at other options beyond Davis and Loney, with rumors that they were looking at Mark Reynolds this week.

It seems that the Brewers are leaning toward Ike Davis right now, or at the least they aren’t willing to meet Loney’s demands. Haudricourt said they don’t want to get into a bidding war for Loney. If Milwaukee gets Davis, that would put the Pirates in a good position to land Loney at a better price than $9-10 M per year. Houston would be the only other possible landing spot, although they have Jonathan Singleton and Chris Carter as internal options so it’s not a guarantee that they add another first baseman.

If it comes down to the Rays and the Pirates, then the Pirates should have the financial advantage for Loney. I’m guessing they also could out-bid the Rays and have the highest bid without meeting the $9-10 M per year asking price.

On the surface it would appear that Loney has some bargaining power right now, due to being the best first base option on the market. However, that doesn’t matter when the three teams looking for a first baseman all say that they can’t afford your asking price. I don’t imagine Loney will sign anytime soon, since he would have no reason to sign a deal quickly. If Milwaukee does land Davis, I would think that would increase the chances of the Pirates being able to get Loney.

UPDATE 1:19 PM: Will Carroll says that he’s hearing the Pirates are more focused on Mitch Moreland than Loney. He says they prefer Loney, but not at that price.

As long as there are alternatives for the Pirates, Brewers, and Rays, I don’t think Loney has much leverage with his asking price.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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