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Peña was never a poor defender, but where he was paid to slug home runs, Loney's ability with the glove was enough to merit three years of confidence from the front office -- who I would like to note, have detailed systems to track defense we can only dream about. It's not fun to just ask everyone to trust the office's process, though. Loney is adventurous with his range (averaging over 31 plays out of zone per season), deliberate in his decisions to track down balls Zobrist would be fine to field (often leaving the pitcher to cover first base), and strong with his throws when necessary (starting a league-high 16 double plays last season).During the Winter Meetings, Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman each spoke of their desire to have a left handed first baseman and a batter who would excel against right handed pitching added to starting line up.After yet another low-cost one-year signing that paid dividends for the Rays, they wooed him back with job security.It was a departure from the one-and-done model we've seen since Carlos Peña stopped being Carlos Peña.
He only took 361 at-bats last season while dealing with finger and oblique injuries. Pollock having surgery on elbow, hopes to return this season The Rays open their season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.That's cash in hand, in line with the bonus given to Evan Longoria when he signed his contract extension last year.This is not only the first time Andrew Friedman has given a multi-year contract to a first baseman since Carlos Peña -- who extended his contract before the 2008 season for .5M over three years -- but it is also the largest free agent contract ever signed by this front office.James Loney meets that need, and provides the defense the Rays desire. Loney was discarded in the Punto trade between Los Angeles and Boston as an expiring contract, and expectedly so.Loney was in the midst of his worst offensive production in his career.