Now that the first base market has shaken out a bit the Rays have re-signed James Loney to a three-year, $21 million contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Loney was hardly a sought-after free agent last offseason, signing a one-year, $2 million deal with Tampa Bay. He got off to a hot start for the Rays before coming back down to earth, finishing with a .299 batting average, 13 homers, and a .778 OPS in 158 games overall.
Toss in good defense and he was a very solid all-around player, but the amount of reported interested Loney has received is surprising. He hasn’t topped an .800 OPS since 2007 and has never hit more than 15 homers in a season. And now he gets a big payday at age 29.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East
Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams. The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.