Rays release first baseman Loney

Rays release first baseman Loney

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays released James Loney on Sunday, prior to Major League Baseball's deadline for clubs to set their 25-man rosters.

Earlier in the week, the Rays told Loney he would not be on the team, but they waited until Sunday to see if a trade might come to fruition before the deadline.

2016 season: Schedule | Tickets | Gear

"It was a difficult decision, but especially for a guy, he did a lot of good things for this organization over the last couple of years," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He was a leader for us. He had some good seasons. But sometimes, we all know in this business, there's decisions that need to be made. To Ja-Lo's credit, we all know he's a big league player. He'll definitely continue on having a good career."

Rumors about Loney's fortunes circulated throughout the offseason after the team's acquisitions of Logan Morrison, Steve Pearce and Corey Dickerson. In the end, the offseason moves left no room for Loney after the Rays left Spring Training healthy.

"You know, you look at last spring with the amount of injuries we had, I think the front office did a tremendous job of going out and bringing in guys and kind of covering ourselves," Cash said. "We were extremely fortunate this spring with just Boxberger going down. And it created a jam there. But again, we wish Ja-Lo nothing but the best."

Loney told reporters on Tuesday that he thought it would "work out for the best for me."

"The team was great," Loney said. "Obviously, I wish them the best. The guys were great. Loved my time here. Loved the organization, how they gave me a chance after 2012. But at the end of the day, you want to play in the big leagues and you want to win, obviously. So we'll see how that goes.

" ... I would have liked to win with these guys. But at the end of the day, it is a business. So those aren't my decisions. I had nothing to do with that."

Loney's departure brought clarity to the first-base situation, which will be a platoon between the right-handed-hitting Pearce and left-handed Morrison.

The Rays signed Loney as a free agent to a one-year, $2-million deal on Dec. 6, 2012. They re-signed him on Jan. 3, 2014, to a three-year, $21-million deal.

Loney hit .280 with four home runs and 32 RBIs in an injury-plagued 2015 campaign. The slick-fielding first baseman hit .291 with 26 home runs and 176 RBIs in 417 games with the Rays.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.