The Rays will release first baseman James Loney, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. In late March, the Rays informed Loney that he would not be making the Opening Day roster, so his release was widely expected. The Rays are still on the hook for the $8MM that they owe the veteran for the 2016 season and they ostensibly could not find a trade partner willing to take on a portion of that money.
Injuries slowed Loney down in 2015 and limited him to a 104-game season. In 388 plate appearances, Loney slashed just .280/.322/.357 and posted his lowest OPS since 2012. Over the years, Loney has picked up a reputation for solid defensive play at first base, but the advanced numbers show that he has declined in that area recently. In 2015, he had a -5.4 UZR/150 and his 2014 UZR/150 of -1.8 was also poor. And, while Loney has multiple double-digit home run seasons on his resume, he doesn’t offer much in the way of power.
According to Baseball Reference, Loney has earned nearly $27MM in salary over the course of his big league career. His next deal probably won’t be the most lucrative contract of his career, but he’s also not hurting for cash. Prior to signing a three-year, $21MM deal with the Rays prior to the 2014 season, Loney spent six-and-a-half years with the Dodgers and had a short stint with the Red Sox.