We’ve heard that the Rockies are interested in Justin Morneau for their open first base job. But if that doesn’t work out, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that James Loney is the fallback option.They still want Morneau, however, Renck says, and he believes they can get him on a two-year deal given that no other team seems to be in on him right now.
Loney had what appears at first glance to be a breakout/resurgent season for the Rays last year, with a line of .299/.348/.430 to go with 13 HR and 75 RBI. But looking closer, you see that most of the damage he did was done during his scorching-hot April and May, and after that he settled back in to a Loney-esque .283/.328/.382 over the final four months of the season. That was still totally cool for the Rays, though, as he only cost them $2 million.
If he doesn’t break the bank Loney can still be valuable, especially given his fine defense. But fans of whichever team lands him should expect his production to look a lot more like those last four months of 2013, not the first two or the overall batting line for the year.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.