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Rays sign Loney to 3-year, $21 million deal

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Published:   |   Updated: January 3, 2014 at 10:29 PM

The Tampa Bay Rays officially announced they signed free agent first baseman James Loney this afternoon.

Loney, who enjoyed a breakout season with Rays in 2013 while working on a one-year, $2 million contract, returns on a three-year, $21 million deal -- the largest free agent contract given to a Rays player since owner Stuart Sternberg took over the team after the 2005 season.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he is thrilled to have Loney in the lineup for three more seasons.

“And so is the entire infield,” Maddon said. “You talk about Linus with his blanket, (Loney) is a security blanket for the whole infield.”

In addition to batting a team-high .299, Loney provided above average defense at first base. He, along with second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Yunel Escobar and third baseman Evan Longoria, were finalists for Gold Gloves after last season.

“When I look at him ,I see as opposed to ‘Loney’ could just have “Steady’ written on the back (of his jersey),” Maddon said. “You know what you’re going to get, and you feel really good about it. He’s a man’s man, you can talk to him. It’s all straight up. There is nothing phony about this guy.”

Loney played 1,277 2/3 innings at first base last season, the most ever by a Rays first baseman.

rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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