LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Finding a first baseman continued to be a pursuit for the Rays as Day 3 of baseball's Winter Meetings drew to a close at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort on Wednesday.
"I feel like last night and today were productive," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "... I think each day that's gone on has kind of crystallized things a little more. I think that's one of the areas in the next few days where something could happen. That said, it may drag on longer than that. But I think we've advanced the ball in some areas to potentially do some things sooner than later."
Friedman noted that if something did not get done in the next couple of days, they have at least made "positive momentum" and he said he would be surprised if they did not have a first baseman by the end of December.
Two potential first-base candidates landed with the Mariners on Wednesday, as they signed Corey Hart to a one-year, $6 million deal and traded right-hander Carter Capps to the Marlins for Logan Morrison.
Last year's first baseman, free agent James Loney, is reportedly looking for a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $30 million. If Loney's demands somehow drop to where Tampa Bay could afford him, there is little doubt the club would like to have him back.
Joe Maddon told reporters that he called Loney after the Gold Glove Awards were announced and Loney did not win. The Rays manager said he wanted to let Loney know that he thought he should have won.
Maddon and the Rays love Loney's defense, and his offense is of the ilk that fits Tampa Bay's model. The Pirates and Brewers are said to be interested in Loney as well.
If Loney isn't the Rays' guy, don't look for a Ben Zobrist move to first. Maddon dismissed that possibility, which means Tampa Bay will have to acquire its first baseman via trade or free agency.
There have been rumors that the Rays are interested in free agent Mark Reynolds, but even though he has power, he's more of a free swinger than what Tampa Bay has had in the past. As for potential trade candidates, the Rays have been mentioned as suitors for Ike Davis of the Mets and Mitch Moreland of the Rangers.
"We want somebody who can play over there," Maddon said. "We need somebody who can play first base well. We just have to. There's no getting around that."
Rays unlikely to select player in Rule 5 Draft
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rays have one opening on their 40-man roster, but it's unlikely they will select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning.
"We haven't been that active [in the Rule 5]," executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "We go through the names thoroughly, and everything else, but since '08 it's hard for us to not only allocate for a 25-man spot to a Rule 5 player, but also a 40-man spot. Can't do anything with that spot until the middle of March. It's just a long time to potentially lock up a 40-man spot. So it's something we're just not all that active in."
Tampa Bay has not selected a player in the Major League phase since picking left-hander Cesar Cabral with the 14th pick in 2010.
• According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, David Price's agent, Bo McKinnis, told him Price would not sign a long-term deal if he were traded to the Mariners. However, Price would consider signing an extension with other clubs, which he did not specify.
• Oakland GM Billy Beane complimented Andrew Friedman when he offered him as an example after noting: "You have some mid-market teams with some smart people running them."
• Joe Maddon was asked if he had a gut feeling regarding whether Price would be traded or not, and he likened the situation to last year when the Rays traded James Shields to the Royals.
"I really didn't think Shields was going anywhere, I did not," Maddon said. "So I don't know. ... You hear about all this stuff is going down, but it takes two to dance and you don't know how serious the other side is. And if they're not going to match up, it's ridiculous, don't do it. ... Of course, you have to get that great return if you're going to do it right now."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.