According to a tweet from Tim Brown of Yahoo!, since confirmed by Ken Rosenthal as well, the Tampa Bay Rays have kicked off their Winter Meetings with a rather Rays-y, uninspiring move, picking up former below-average, current replacement-level first baseman James Loney, formerly of Boston and Los Angeles.

The Rays’ track record is too solid for me to guffaw too heartily, but… it’s not exactly a move that has me shaking in my boots, as a Jays fan.

This, on the other hand, kinda does– and could make sense for both a Rays club and a Nationals club with some areas of surplus to work with:

He wasn’t as great last year, but the .390 wOBA Morse of 2011 would certainly go a long way to help the Rays, and Espinosa pretty nice piece, albeit one who took a step backwards with the bat in 2011– worse walk and strikeout rates and lower ISO, OBP, and wOBA, despite a rather higher BABIP– maintaining the 3.5 win level of his rookie year with a big fluctiation up in his UZR.

Of course, the concerns I raise here don’t look quite as major when you given some context: Morse’s last three seasons at the plate have each been better than the last five from the man he’d hypothetically replace, Carlos Pena. And Espinosa would certainly find a nice home in the Rays’ infield that’s losing Jeff Keppinger. So… I can see why the two teams could potentially be talking, even if the price for Tampa might be as steep as James Shields.

The refreshingly new litmus test this off-season, however, is whether or not one of the Jays’ rivals makes a deal that takes a bit of a shine off what our club has already done, and maybe I’m being naive about it, but if this is something Tampa genuinely explores, I can’t say I mind too terribly.

So… there’s that.

Comments (66)

  1. Replacement level of course means 4 WAR as soon as he puts on a Rays uniform…

  2. Career year, meet James Loney.

    • get ready for a 330/400/500 line from him, just because the world hates us

      • He’ll do better because there wil be absolutely no one watching.
        I think he’ll fall well short of those digits though.

  3. 2 am posts means we all win

  4. how good are the nationals going to be though seriously.

  5. I don’t care how good defensively he is, James Loney sucks.

  6. stoets

    you dont think the timing and magnitude of the jays trade will cause the yanks, rays and orioles to be a bit more aggressive in their offseasons?

  7. nationals are going to kill it, If this deal falls through I can definitely see them chasing grienke. They have money to spend.

  8. Loney, morse, and espinonsa combined would not be as impactful as the melky cabrera signing. So, basically, i could care less.

  9. …because it happened in baseball. Tennessee, the place to be.

  10. “Delmon Young might wait until January to sign, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Young is recovering from ankle surgery and wants to be healthy in his auditions for new teams”

    2012: LHP .308/.333/.500
    Now there’s a lefty masher to go with Lind. Coming off ankle surgery and having no defensive value I could see AA picking him up for $5-6 million per year.

    • A million times no

      • +1 million more times no.

        • Who would you suggest to share the platoon with Lind?

          I am stymied but I am sure AA has a couple of interesting names.

          • I’m telling you. Geovany Soto.

            Mashes lefties with an .890 OPS in his career.

            Coming of a shitty year will make him pretty cheap and he can back up JPA/Buck if one of them is traded.

            Plus a small chance he finds his stroke and mashes like his ROY season.

          • Soto just re-signed with the Rangers…so not gonna happen.

            I’d take Mark Reynolds as a platoon DH for sure. Just keep him out of the field.

            • Missed that signing.

              What’s up with all the Rangers want JPA talk then? Do they think JPA is a whole lot better than Soto…… assuming last year was an outlier for him?

              Reynolds would be good but probably a bit pricey for someone who only plays against lefties.

          • Honestly, with the lineup the Jays already have, playing Edwin at first against lefties and having Davis DH wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Davis is a career .290 guy against lefties, and we all know what he can do when he’s on the bases. And when Davis is not available, Bonifacio is a switch hitter and, wouldn’t you know it, he’s also a .290 career hitter against lefties and a terror on the basepaths.

            With Edwin and Bautista, the Jays already have good power out of the 3-4 spots. Where they struggled last year was with OBP and cashing in runs consistently in the 5-9 spots, and I think that they now have the players to allow some creative platooning and late-inning substitutions there.

    • Probably less than that, even, given he has no defensive value and no one’s going to give him regular playing time (unless someone wants to do something stupid, which is a distinct possibility)

      Could really give less of a shit about his off the field issues or the size of his face to be honest. You go from having a turd at DH, to getting good production in a platoon, and all its likely to cost is you is 1 year and $4 or $5 million

  11. Michael Morse is one of those players I just like for some reason, try to get him at a reasonable round of my drafts and his walk up song is awesome,

  12. I don’t think Delmon Young would be the worst thing…you could always have the holocaust playing for your team.

  13. I got excited to see the Rays wanted Loney.

    But as much as I try to tell myself the trade won’t work between the Nats and TB, it just seems perfect. The Nats want an arm, the Rays are Vishnu.
    The rays want some infield help, the Nats have Espinoza, Desmond, Lombardozi, and Rendon.

    This whorish conglomerate has given me (to quote my favorite author Hunter S Thompson)

    “The Fear”

    • The Rays are also after Morse. Would make alot of sense for them.

      Maddon will turn a platoon of Loney and Morse into a morphed creature manning 1st base that will likely be a beast.

      Fucking Rays.

    • “The Rays are Vishnu”: very well played, Smasher!

  14. Reports were that the Rays wanted to upgrade offensively at 1st base.

    I didn’t think Loney was an offensive upgrade for any 1st baseman even Adam Lind

  15. jpa + gose for shields?

    • NO.
      After going thid far with Gose ( an 8 on the speed dial, defence and arm), no way they would use him as a “throw in” in a deal for shields. The only P on Tampa I would include Gose in would be for Price. None of the others would be worth including him now

    • I don’t really see how Gose can be traded now that Marisnick is gone, or the upper half of our system would be entirely bereft of serious OF talent. We need Gose as insurance if Rasmus doesn’t finally discover the ability to hit consistently. Ask the Braves how much it costs to pull a CF out of thin air.

      If any prospects are traded, I would expect them to be taken from the A-level talent. There’s enough of a “gap” as it is without trading one of our few close-to-majors talents.

  16. My salami sandwich for your snack pack?

  17. As a platoon hitter, Loney isn’t so bad for 1B. Rays are masters of using platoons to their advantage.

    • Career .294/.351/.439 vs. righties.

      Also a career .293/.345/.462 on the road, so perhaps the ballpark in LA didn’t help his cause.

  18. Loney deal is decent for the price – 2 mil – but the Rays will still suck offensively so there’s definitely gotta be another shoe to drop

    Still, so far, these are small, minor low risk moves and/or depth signings – gotta wait for that big deal/trade to start pushing GM’s into action, because the Upton signing and Jays trade hasn’t started the domino effect too much.

  19. The Rays can definitely get a higher market value from a starter of James Shields’ quality than Morse and Bonifacio. Compare this to the Dan Haren trade of last year – Arizona got two of baseball’s elite pitching prospects, with a good starter and less good reliever thrown in. Dan Haren didn’t pan out obviously, but in a free agent pool as week as this one in in elite-level pitching, Washington would have to give up far more than that for a top-of-the-rotation guy like James Shields.

  20. Since Price would take the farm and then some, I wonder what Shields would cost. Not just for the Jays, but for any team.

    • Not that I’m opposed to anyone giving up the farm for Price. I’m just curious about what exactly Shields’ price would be.

      • Good question – I think it would take a top prospect that could slide into the Rays’ weak hitting prospect corps. Anthony Rendon is a tremendous corner infielding prospect, and though the Zimmerman-to-Longoria switch in players above him doesn’t exactly do him a favour, the switch to the American League lessens that pressure to be a number one defender.

        In addition, the Rays would need a top-notch everyday player that’s affordable, one that’s worth giving up their #2 starter. Ian Desmond’s contract is really appealing from that perspective.

        So I’d think Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and Michael Morse for James Shields would help both – Instantly improves the Rays’ top 9 and boosts their prospect cupboard at an affordable rate, and gives the Nationals arguably the best National League pitching staff heading into a Series-contending season at a low every day cost (which they could replace in free agency a lot better than the Rays could anyway).

  21. One less great starter on the Rays works for me.

  22. Sux are closing in on napoli. Good player but not going to make them instant contenders.

  23. Napoli will sign with the Red Sox

    No surprise there, seems like the beer swillin kinda guy

  24. just beat me to it afdg

    yea I agree – Napoli will be a fun player to watch, good signing to show the Sox fans they dont plan on laying down and dying this year, but in reality his play won’t impact the AL East that much

    Sox still have too many holes and questionable prospects playing on the team to really think they could do too much

    NOW we know why it didn’t make sense to hold onto Napoli that year the Jays made that trade. For everyone who says his signing with Red Sox isn’t that big a game changer for Red Sox playoff chances needs to accept that was the same principle when the Jays did it too. They had a half-good rotation with too many ? marks. Hot shot 3b prospect with promise (Middlebrooks vs Lawrie), couple big bopping sluggers, health concerns, etc

    • at 13 million a year aav that is a terrible signing for a poor defending catcher or poor hitting first baseman. The only good stat about Napoli is he is decent at drawing a walk.

      If he returns to 2011 form sure he will be great. However if he doesn’t 13 million is a lot when you consider he will be getting paid an extra 6 million for 2013 over Lind (5 mill for adam lind and 2 mill buyout at the end of the season).

  25. Hmm, now Olney saying that teams expect Arizona to trade Upton

  26. @indestructible he’s going to the rays or orioles then if that happens no trade to rest of division

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