James Loney on the Verge of a Deal With the Rays

Buster Olney reports that James Loney is on the verge of a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The deal would be a multi-year deal, according to Loney. It appears that the Pirates will have to turn to the trade market with Loney off the table. It will be interesting to see what he ended up signing for.

The top two trade options are Ike Davis and Mitch Moreland, although other options could be available like Justin Smoak and Adam Lind. Milwaukee and Pittsburgh are the two remaining teams looking for a first baseman.

UPDATE 5:29 PM: Ken Rosenthal says that Loney got 3 years, $21 M.

He had been asking for three years and $27-30 M. I figured the price would come down to $7-7.5 M per year. I wasn’t sure if the Rays would be able to pay that. Even if the Pirates could match it, I’d imagine Loney would want to stay in Tampa.

Tim Williams

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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  • https://www.facebook.com/marty.leap Marty

    Pirates are in big trouble at 1B now. Yikes.

    • buster09

      OMG ! Sale the team …..

      • https://www.facebook.com/marty.leap Marty

        Anyone who doesn’t think this team is in trouble at 1B is delusional. Gaby crushes lefties, stinks vs RHP, and Lambo stinks vs everyone.

        • Skipperron

          Give Lambo a chance. You have not seen him enough to say he stinks against everyone. He was used as a pinch hitter, and rarely at that, for most of his time last year.

          • https://www.facebook.com/marty.leap Marty

            I saw him play a lot at Altoona, he looked overmatched there most years.

            • buster09

              Marty : I doubt if you saw Lambo play any more than I did in Altoona,and the last season plus he wasn’t over matched at all

              • https://www.facebook.com/marty.leap Marty

                I did not see him play at Altoona at all in 2013, but, when it’s your 6th year at AA you better be able to finally start hitting the pitching you’re seeing.

                • http://www.reverbnation.com/johnrussellskinner johnrussellskinner

                  In his defense, AA is the hardest level to adjust to, and he didn’t have time to develop in the lower minors.

  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    3/21. Fairly reasonable. Surprised the Bucs couldn’t match that.

    • chenzt

      I think we could’ve financially. But we couldn’t match the promise of a full-time starting job I assume.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bob.martin.9003 Bob Martin

      There is two problems with your statement. One, the Pirates weren’t going to give him 3 yrs and the second one is I hear the Rays gave him 5 million as a signing bonus, there is no way the Pirates were going to so that either.
      The Pirates still didnt have a shot at him.

    • dcpinpgh

      Don’t forget, no taxes in Fl

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        That doesn’t make up for a huge amount. Means the Pirates would have had to offer about 3/$21.75 to match.

        I think that even if they matched (and they might have), Loney would have gone to the Rays.

        • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

          I did some digging on the topic of state income tax rates before. And as you suggest the difference depends on the alternative team/state. New York, for example, has a state income tax rate of over 5% for the highest earners (which means LeBron would’ve have needed nearly an extra million per year from the Knicks to net the same amount he’d earn by playing for the Heat).

  • https://profiles.google.com/103770536589125998209 Michael Jackson

    Sigh. We should have just signed Morneau.

    • http://www.acme-tv.com LongJohnSilver

      Agree with you.

      • Hank

        Morneau, he of the 3 RBI’s and 5 extra base hits in 101 Pirate at bats??? That would be a great signing! His bat speed is long gone. May as well hit Barmes cleanup.

        • https://profiles.google.com/103770536589125998209 Michael Jackson

          Like Loney was an improvement. The most HRs he had in a year were 15 and that was back in 2007.

          Morneau had nine last August alone.

          • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

            Lol, I know. I love how any analysis of Morneau starts and ends with the ONE month he spent in Pittsburgh. No need to address the 19 dingers, which Loney would have to sell his soul to the devil to achieve….

  • IC Bob

    Tim whats going on? Morrison is traded for a bag of balls Loney goes for under market value and the Bucs are not in thier for either. I guess we may be down to Smoak, Moreland or heaven forbid Lambo.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/johnrussellskinner johnrussellskinner

    I guess I don’t understand all the people who are down on Lambo. If the guy is a AAAA player, let him prove it! In my opinion, no one has seen the guy play enough to make a fair judgement (other than staff and some of the folks who go to Altoona games). I could still see an Ike Davis pickup out of all of the trade options. I don’t think Smoak will end up here.

    • buster09

      JRS : I watched Lambo at 1st base for almost every home game he played for the Curve,and unless he has made significant progrees defensively,I am not convinced he is ready to play there in MLB. However,I was never convinced Jones was capable either. Lambo will hit RH pitching though,I am convinced of that !

      • McCutchen22

        Looney also received a 5 mill signing bonus…that’s a lot for a platoon player. In TB he will play everyday. No brainer for him. At this point I’d just pony up for AJ n platoon Gaby n Lambo…Davis, Moreland n Smoak aren’t worth a trade just to say u filled a supposed need. If the Jays asked for walker in return for Lind it’s not going to get any better!

      • JRIcentral

        I want Lambo to have a shot as well, but as a RF (sharing time with Tabata). I like us to sign Eric Chavez to platoon with Gaby. The thing is we still have Snyder who was re-signed for this year.
        My guess is we still get a Lefty 1B in a trade, and Lambo starts at AAA (with a short leash for Travis).

      • Skipperron

        Lambo has only made one error so far this winter at first

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

          In 4 or 5 games. That really doesn’t tell us much.

        • Jared

          Skipperron, my god, how are you man? Long time no see!

      • http://www.reverbnation.com/johnrussellskinner johnrussellskinner

        Let’s hope you’re right brother! I checked out his stats in 2012 on the daily, and he was obviously doing well against the AAA competition (especially RHP).

      • https://www.facebook.com/marty.leap Marty

        I’ll beat you a case of IC Light Lambo’s OPS wouldn’t be higher than .720 next year.

        • buster09

          If you think I would drink that you don’t have a clue !

    • bigdaddywaite

      Prove it? I thought were were supposed to challenge for the division next year? With Lambo at 1B, I seriously doubt it. Face it we’ve gotten worse from last year. This is a joke? Where the $20 million in television revenue go? I’ll tell you were in the ownerships pocket. It certainly didnt go towards the team. I got news for you guys. This is only the beginning wait until Pedro is up for contract and the Cole. Say goodbye to them as well.

      • mblthd

        You’re kidding yourself if you think James Loney is the key to challenging for a division. Whoever the Pirates play at 1B will outhit Loney, and at a fraction of the cost.

        • Ron Zorn

          Couldn’t agree more. James Loney is/was not the answer at almost any cost. First base is not a glove first position. It is where sluggers go to hide.

    • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

      The concern I have is if Lambo washes out, there is no Plan B. It would be great if he forced NH’s hand with solid play in ST and at Indy. It’s important to remember he was nowhere on the prospect map at this time last year after repeatedly scuffling at The higher levels. He has basically a combined one season at AAA with a .232/.305/.455; enough to be intriguing, for sure. But I’d feel better about promoting him with another 200 AB of solid production at Indy.

      Moreland, Smoak, Davis, Mike Carp. Surely one of them could be had for any of the Pirates’ excess of RP.

      • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

        The Plan B is to suck it up and deal with a weak position versus RHP for 2-4 months, and then acquire a fix from one of the teams who tumbles out of the race.

        Even IF (and it’s a big IF) Loney somehow repeats his career high 2.7 WAR as a platoon player- what will that cost us? I’d say MAYBE a win or two, and I’m being generous. And of course if he regresses towards his 2012 performance of .629 OPS and negative-0.4 WAR then we’ve lost absolutely nothing.

        The only way you can come up with the assertion I keep seeing that this contract is a “bargain” is to focus solely on Loney’s 2013 WAR and the notion that “a win costs $6M”, ignoring both Loney’s WAR data in his leaner years and any attempt to put that $6M in team context.

        Let’s agree that a “win above replacement” costs $6M in free agency for arguments sake. That still doesn’t mean that as long as a player signs for less than $6M/2013 WAR it’s automatically a good deal. First, consider the cost of a 95-win team if constructed entirely through free agency. You’d have the highest payroll in the league by any measure of a replacement-level roster’s win total. So clearly a team has to pick it’s spots, considering value over OUR replacement (in this case Sanchez/Lambo plus whatever e,we we throw against the wall this Spring) rather than some generic notion of replacement-level.

        Then we must consider out budget. Is the upgrade James Loney represents over whoever else may be accumulate ABs against RHP worth tying up ~ 10% of our payroll? If last season’s 2.7 WAR was a reasonable baseline with theoretical upside to match the downside, then sure, you could make that argument I guess.

        But when we’re talking about a very low-ceiling player who carries with him the distinct possibility of posting an abject howler in one or more of the next three seasons…..I say no thanks. (I keep seeing James described as a high-floor player, which I guess comes from being a reliable defender and “contact/OBP hitter”….but take a look at 2012 and then try to tell me a corner bat with a .249/.293/.336 on his record is a “high-floor” player).

        Virtually anyone we could consider for this first base opening is going to have some ugliness in his track record. All the more reason to wait a couple months and then trade and pick a player who IS having a solid season/message. And then we can reconsider the first base question next winter, when perhaps the market will be more robust (or an internal solution will present itself).

  • bigdaddywaite

    Back to being the cheap Pirates again! we were better off with Jones playing 1B than we are know. This ownership continues to prove how cheap they really are. Sorry team How in the hell are we better off in 2014 than we were at the end of last year? I look at this current roster and I see 4th place. St Louis got better and were supposed to be able to challenge them. I scoff!

    • csnumber23

      Dude, it’s December 13th! Moves will be made! Please just stay off the band wagon, we don’t need to see you in September on the bandwagon!

    • mblthd

      Scoff if you like, but news of Loney signing elsewhere should prompt a sigh of relief. The Pirates signing Loney would have been a huge mistake.

      As to STL, I’m not so sure. Their pitching looks great (again), but Yadier’s a year older, Holliday is an oaf on the decline, Wong is an unknown quantity at 2B, Peralta has to show he can produce without the juice, Craig is brittle, etc.

  • jschwartz

    It looks like it will possibly Lambo/Sanchez @ 1st W/Tabata/Whoever in right to start the season. Lambo can’t do much worse than Jones last year. I’m surprisingly OK with this.

    • McCutchen22

      agree with u schwartz

    • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

      Lambo is very inexperienced and weak defensively at 1B. I think we’ll end up seeing a lot more of Sanchez both ways than is prudent. But there is time and trade options left, so everyone should relax.

  • Dave

    I don’t care for any of the remaining options…. Let’s see if Lambo has got what it takes.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/johnrussellskinner johnrussellskinner

    I”m all for the Chavez/Lambo/Gabby Plan… wouldn’t be shocked if that happened either. Chavez is old and brittle, but the guy can just HIT! It will get Lambo a chance to show what he’s got, while still having a veteran who mashes LHP. Chavez would be a great bat off the bench on Gabby’s days as well!!!

  • http://www.smalawgroup.com Esquire

    I think the Pirates are going to regret this move. $21 mill is reasonable for a career 285 hitter and great defense.

    I’m disappointed that they didn’t pull the trigger on this one.

    This team needs someone besides Cutch to hit for average.

    • http://www.reverbnation.com/johnrussellskinner johnrussellskinner

      I think Marte will hit for a better average than Loney eventually, but the plate patience is a major issue with him. Polanco is a BLUE CHIP, and as passionate as everyone is about picking up other teams’ top prospects, he is the #1 prospect in the #1 farm system. Granted, this is the #1 system in large part because of depth, but I predict Polanco blows all of our minds and “expectaions”!

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/johnrussellskinner johnrussellskinner

    I know what Neil has up his sleeve! They are gonna move Pedro to 1st, and trade for Longoria from the Rays to play 3rd. haha j/k

  • Andrew

    So the did the Pirates get out bid by the Rays?

  • Jared

    This is reasonable. I would have signed him for 3/$21 and I don’t even really like Loney that much. I have maintained all along that $7-7.5 would’ve been fine with me for Loney. I think the Pirates are now in some trouble because they might have to overpay for a 1B if they are going to improve that position at all…maybe they believe they can make Gaby into a viable two-way option, I don’t think so and I don’t see it, but maybe that’s there thinking. I do not think its smart for this team not to get a 1B option/improvement, but I also don’t agree with the Burnett lack of QO or the Edinson Volquez signing…so I guess we shall see. The Pirates have enough $$$ for this deal that it doesn’t make a ton of sense that they weren’t the winner of the bid, but I wouldn’t have paid more than $7.5M and I think Loney would have taken less to play in Tampa…so that’s what happened.

    • csnumber23

      I will bet the Bucs offered Loney around the same as the Rays and he chose to stay there. No Gabby is not a full time player and they know this. We will see a trade happen most likely. We have so much depth to go get a first baseman.

  • Pie Rat

    With the options we had, I think Loney was the best option, and I wasn’t worried about his lack of power. Although, I didn’t like where he ended up in he line-up. At either the 2 or 6 position it didn’t help run production. In the long run it might be for the better. Is having Pedro play 1st or Gaby platooning with Pedro at 3rd even an option?

  • pnight14

    Everyone needs to calm down. James Loney would be a moderate upgrade over what the platoon of Gaby / Jones did prior to Morneau. He can play the position… and fairly well, yes. But there are more than viable options still remaining who are younger with a higher ceiling than Loney. I never really liked this idea in the first place solely because Loney has a sub-par ability to drive in runs, which is what we need our 1B to do. I would welcome the addition of Davis / Smoak / Moreland; although Moreland scares me because of the ball park he plays in.

    We need a thumper… bottom line. Davis hit 30 HRs two years ago in Citi Field, which is far from a band box. Higher ceiling + Cheap gives you the capability to lure back AJ. Signing Loney would eliminate this ability because we would be dangerously close to the 80 Mil mark Neal set prior to the offseason.

  • IC Bob

    I think it can be argued that the Pirates situation at first is the worst in the NL (though the Marlins are close to being as bad). Thats not a formula for challenging for the division title. Maybe they can make a nice trade. Maybe we can get back Laroche. he mauls righties after May 1st. Just have to play Gabby until then.

  • https://profiles.google.com/101068218891331272614 Evan Gross

    Really…. the Pirates dont sign an average 1b the sky is falling… rolls eyes. Again this is prudent fiscal management the Pirates do not have the resources to fill every position with an average Major League player. They need to bank on younger players stepping and making contributions and then signing them to controlled cost contracts.

    I would not have paid Loney a dollar over $4 million dollars – I’m glad to see that Neal is playing hardball with free agents as opposed to the Littlefield era.

    Keep up the good work Neal – keep calm and carry on.

    • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

      +1

    • mblthd

      +2, but I’d add that, in addition to banking on younger players making contributions, it would help to sprinkle it with the occasional trash-heap (read: inexpensive) gem acquisition, like July 21, 2011 Jason Grilli.

      NH had his chance to score one like that with Gamel, but Frank Wren beat him to it. Because of knee injuries, Gamel’s only had 269 big-league PA, far too small of a sample size to make any informed judgment. Maybe Gamel washes out in ST, who knows, but not long ago he was considered one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, so there’s a chance he might rake. If he does, that’s found money for ATL and an opportunity lost for PIT.

      • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

        Gamel (or Ian Stewart, or Matt LaPorta) would’ve been right up NH’s alley in prior off-seasons.

        • mblthd

          Ian Stewart – 1620 career PA
          Matt LaPorta – 1068 career PA
          Mat Gamel – 269 career PA

          Maybe Gamel is every bit the washout Stewart and LaPorta were, but it’s too early to tell. MIL was ready to hand him the keys to 1B last year before he hurt his knee in spring training. ATL’s willing to roll the dice – it could pay off big time, and if it doesn’t then so what? It didn’t cost anything.

          • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

            Sure, I wasn’t trying to rip the idea. Sorry if it came across that way.

  • freddylang

    I like Loney and he is a decent player but I am kind of glad to hear this. I think he is overpriced for what he gives you and have been on Eric Chavez from the beginning because while he hasn’t played a lot of 1B he was a great 3B and you know he will be athletic for a 1B. Most importantly, Chavez provides more pop from the left side and could really do some damage in PNC. I hope they can get him. Chavez may like 3B better but the Bucs would be his best shot to get over 400 AB for the first time since 2006. I don’t know what drives Chavez but the Bucs would be a chance to play a lot, go to the playoffs, and at 36 pad some stats on what was once a potential HOF career before injuries ruined it. Chave could still get to 300 HR and 1000 rbi if he stays healthy and gets the ABs. He could recoup some of the luster he had early in his career.

    • http://wkkortas.wordpress.com wkkortas

      I agree wholeheartedly; That’s not a bad deal for Loney, but I don’t think the Pirates need to go more than that in terms of financial commitment, and while I like Loney, he’s not a guy you get into a bidding war over. I think Chavez would be an excellent platoon fit, and I think the Mets are desperate/stupid enough to send Ike Davis packing for a reasonable return, and Ike just screams bounce-back player.

      • freddylang

        Davis would be an ok get too but I like the security and presence of a vet like Chavez. I think the biggest benefit of Loney would be that he gives you really good at bats almost always and is so tough to strikeout…and the Bucs have a lot of guys with that issue. Chavez is not great against lefties but I think you could spell Pedro against them occasionally with Chavez…and get great defense along with it.