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.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.