The Tampa Bay Rays were able to sign James Loney to a three-year deal last week. This is huge news for Rays' fans. James Loney had an incredible year with Tampa Bay last year as he was their best hitter for average on the team. His numbers may not seem impressive but fans will take a .300 hitter and 75 runs knocked in any year. He also had some clutch hits when the Rays needed them down the stretch as he is calm, cool and collected. He was the most consistent bat in the lineup night in and night out as he knew how to get on base. Loney is patient at the plate and knows how to take the ball the other way. He knows not to swing out of the strike zone and knows how to take his walks. This is what you want from your lefty first baseman that is also a terrific defensive first baseman too. There was plenty of speculation that the Rays were not going to be able to keep Loney. Loney was set to be a free agent and make some big bucks but chose to stay here instead on a three-year deal worth $21 million. This allows for Tampa Bay to keep their four potential gold gloves in the infield. With Evan Longoria, Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist all locked up for another year the time may be now to make a run. The signing of James Loney says a lot about this team and the organization as a whole. Loney could have made nearly $30 million but he chose to stay in Tampa Bay because he believes this team is fit to make a title run. James Loney is worth every cent the Rays will pay him.
This signing of Loney could also impact the David Price sweepstakes. The Seattle Mariners were definitely in the running for a big-time trade involving David Price. Most of the teams in the hunt though were offering first baseman. But the big part is that the Rays have addressed this issue at first for the next three seasons and the need for a first baseman is no longer in play. Price said he would not sign a multi-year contract extension with the Mariners so they now seem out of the game. This definitely makes things interesting as David Price will be the top paid player on the team this year. But if Andrew Friedman and the front office may think we have enough pieces in place to make a World Series run this year they may just hold onto him. Things have definitely changed in the last week or so in the Rays world. His value will go down after this season as now is the best time to trade David Price but the chances now seem less than before the Loney signing. Fans go both ways in the trading of David Price this season but at this time in his career this is the most you will get for him. If David Price goes who will be the fifth starter is the question? Is Jake Odorizzi the answer? Matt Joyce, Jose Lobaton and Sean Rodriguez all still seem to be trade bait as well.
The winter meetings have come and gone and Tampa Bay made some big moves with Ryan Hanigan, James Loney, David DeJesus and Heath Bell but still have yet to pull the trigger on the big question of David Price. If the Rays are not getting offered what they want they probably will wait because Andrew Friedman does not feel any pressure to pull the trigger at this time. Will this lack of movement of David Price come back to haunt them is the question? The Rays offseason will continue for now with the major question of trading David Price will surely to heat up again come mid-January. The Rays want some young talented prospects and nobody has seemed to impress the Rays quite yet with an offering. Tim Beckham also will be out at least six months now with a knee injury. Another interesting point is the re-signing of Jose Molina. Molina frames pitches well and this is David Price's catcher which helps keep his ERA much lower. Would the Rays have brought back Molina for two seasons if they didn't think there was a chance Price would return? One thing Rays' fans can be certain is we can trust in the Tampa Bay Rays as they seem to make the right decisions most of the time.