The Red Sox have expressed interest in bringing James Loney back in 2013 after acquiring the first baseman from the Dodgers earlier this season, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Loney, now 28, has consistently been a well below-average first baseman with the bat in his Major League career, and would be facing arbitration for the third time next season.
The former Dodger has done little since being traded to Boston, hitting a combined .241/.267/.301 in 86 plate appearances with his new team. That dismal production (.569 OPS) is actually quite a bit worse than he was doing with the Dodgers, and he wasn’t exactly tearing it up with them, either (.646 OPS). Because he’s a valuable enough first baseman with the glove, he’s managed to keep himself out of negative WAR territory per FanGraphs statistics, but just barely; with the season almost over, he hasn’t contributed so much as a single decimal point of value.
When Loney burst onto the scene in 2007 with 15 homers and a .919 OPS in 96 games with Los Angeles, plenty of hype was still surrounding his abilities. He came into that season ranked as the 44th best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America, and after that performance seemed ready to deliver on his prospect status. Unfortunately, that debut season has easily been his best effort to date, and his numbers are actually worse than ever as he reaches his theoretical peak years.
At this point, the odds of James Loney turning into the hitter scouts used to think he could be are very slim, and Boston wouldn’t have to look very hard to replace his exactly replacement level value at first base in 2013 and beyond. A slick fielding first baseman with nothing to offer offensively is not a player worth spending money on, especially if he expects any kind of raise over the $6.375 million he earned this season.