James Loney Breaks The Bank

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: James Loney #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a double in the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on April 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 9-5. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have avoided salary arbitration with first baseman James Loney by agreeing to pay Loney $6.4 million (plus performance bonuses!) in 2012.

That $6.4 million -- and the 31-percent raise it represents -- does seem like an awful lot of money for a first baseman who really hasn't been a good hitter since 2007, his rookie season, and has a 108 OPS+ for his career.

"Why didn't the Dodgers just non-tender him?" some Dodgers fans are undoubtedly wondering.

Well, thanks to an excellent second half -- after a truly execrable first half -- Loney finished 2011 with decent numbers. Oh, and if nothing else he's highly durable, averaging 160 games over the last four seasons.

Over those same four seasons, Loney has been "worth" approximately $25 million ... or $6.25 million per season. Which of course is almost exactly what he's going to make in 2012. Which, when you consider salary inflation, might actually be considered a small bargain.

Loney's been up and down in his career, and at this point there's no reason to think he'll ever deliver on the promise of his outstanding rookie season. But this is what every-day first basemen of Loney's experience and performance get. If you don't like, you can follow college football, where we don't have to read about how much money the players make.

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