Last week first baseman James Loney agreed to a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres. Loney was fighting for a spot with Tampa Bay, but was told he wasn’t going to make the Rays Opening Day roster. Loney had an opt-out provision in his contract and in turn wound up being released by the Rays.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller picked up the phone and grabbed Loney, as we all know. The real question remains, however, what purpose will Loney serve on this Padres team?
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James Loney, a career first baseman, comes to a team with two first basemen already on the roster: Wil Myers and Brett Wallace. Myers is primarily the everyday guy at first for Andy Green‘s team, so the addition of Loney is somewhat of a head-scratcher. You don’t sign a veteran just to sit around and play in the minor leagues.
All Padres fans remember James Loney. Loney was a force for the Dodgers from 2008-2011, and had a couple season with 90 RBI, as well as playing in at least 158 games in those four seasons. Loney has spent time with the Red Sox and Rays since his Dodger days but his numbers haven’t been the same since leaving Los Angeles.
The former first-round pick can still swing the bat, and there’s no doubt that he would be a good addition to the Padres bench. However, can this be a precursor to another move by Preller? We all know just how quickly the “Rockstar GM” can swing a deal, and maybe he does have something brewing.
Loney has already played two games thus far for the Padres Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas. How long will he stay there for?
The answer? Nobody knows. This was a low-cost move, as Tampa Bay is responsible for the remaining money on his contract, so nobody can’t jump on Preller for bringing Loney in essentially for free. Perhaps Loney comes to the majors and takes the starting job at first base, which would in turn move Wil Myers back to the outfield.
Myers was an outfielder for the Rays and played mainly in the outfield last season in his injury-plagued first season for San Diego. The left field rotation of Melvin Upton, Jr., Rule 5 pick Jabari Blash, and Travis Jankowski doesn’t seem like it will produce much of anything this season. Blash has the most potential and pop out of all three, and the hefty contract on Upton makes him virtually untouchable as far as the trade market goes, while Jankowski isn’t quite ready to be an everyday starter.
Loney would bring another left-handed bat to a lineup that lacks left-handed batters. Brett Wallace, Jon Jay, Cory Spangenberg and Alexi Amarista, who was just called up, are the lefties in the dugout for Andy Green. Aside from Wallace, who had four pinch-hit home runs last season, none of the others have much power. Jay and Spangenberg sit atop the lineup as on-base guys, and it’s safe to say Amarista isn’t the best hitter in the league.
After transitioning Myers to first base at the end of last year, and making him the “everyday guy” at first this season, is James Loney really worth moving Myers back to the outfield? Perhaps. It is an intriguing idea.
The fact of the matter is this: Nobody has any idea what Preller is thinking, what the GM has in store, or when we will see James Loney hitting at Petco Park.
Will James Loney be called up soon? Or will it be a while before we see the ex-Dodger wearing a Friars uniform? Nobody knows, but we will sure find out soon enough.