The Tigers have released first baseman James Loney, as announced by the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Toledo (hat tip to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade). The move was made to create a roster spot for JaCoby Jones, who was assigned to Triple-A after his Tigers DL stint ended.
The news makes for an unfortunate birthday present for Loney, who turns 33 years old today. The veteran signed a minor league deal with Detroit on April 12 after being released from another minors deal with the Rangers near the end of Spring Training. Heading into today’s action, Loney had hit .200/.351/.222 over 57 plate appearances for Toledo.
After spending his first 10 seasons with the Dodgers and Rays, Loney has bounced around with four different organizations (Padres, Mets, Rangers, Tigers) since being released by Tampa Bay in April 2016. He did score quite a bit of playing time for New York last season, hitting .265/.307/.397 over 366 PA as a replacement for the injured Lucas Duda.
Given Loney’s experience and left-handed bat, he seems like a good bet to catch on with another team as minor league depth. He owns a career .295/.349/.431 slash line against right-handed pitching, and while his once outstanding first base defense has declined in recent years (as per UZR/150 and Defensive Runs Saved), Loney can still provide at least average glovework.
Detroit, of course, has no pressing need at first base on the MLB level with Miguel Cabrera locking down the position. Alex Avila, Andrew Romine and Jim Adduci can play the position as backups, and youngster John Hicks (since demoted to Triple-A) hit quite well filling in for Cabrera during a recent DL stint.