It took six months, but James Loney is finally hitting.
Actually, maybe all it took was for the Dodgers to have him warm up in the bullpen as an emergency pitching option. Since that happened on August 21 he’s 18-for-35 (.514) with four homers and five doubles, which is pretty amazing considering Loney hit .254 with a grand total of five homers in the 123 previous games.
Loney’s overall numbers remain terrible for a first baseman, as his OPS is a career-low .709 and he’s managed just 28 extra-base hits and 32 walks in 471 plate appearances.
He’s on track to finish with a sub-.400 slugging percentage for the third straight season and if the Dodgers are smart they won’t let any late-season hot streaks talk them into keeping Loney around for another year. If he isn’t non-tendered Loney will make at least $5 million in 2012 via arbitration.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.