The Rays are willing to press their luck with James Loney

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James Loney’s 2013 season was a pleasant surprise. And it sounds like the Rays are prepared to gamble that it, and not his miserable 2012 is more representative of what he’ll do going forward. The Tampa Tribune reports that the Rays are interested in re-signing their first baseman and Loney reportedly has an interest of staying in Tampa Bay too.

Loney was a bargain on a one-year, $2 million deal for 2013. He’ll likely command some interest on the free agent market this winter, but not excessive interest given that he’s a known quantity to most teams by now. When his average is up that and his good defense make him a useful, although by no means superior first baseman. When his average is down he’s a drag on your team.

That’s probably worth more than $2 million but less than bank-breaking dollars in this day and age. And if everyone is happy with that, it’s a decent enough match.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.