Their band will be back together, a four-piece collection worthy of gold.

None of the Tampa Bay Rays'€™ infielders won an American League Gold Glove Award last season, but don'€™t let semantics fool you.

Third baseman Evan Longoria, shortstop Yunel Escobar, second baseman Ben Zobrist and first baseman James Loney --€“ the group'€™s most deserving --€“ were finalists for the honor and major reasons why Tampa Bay owned one of baseball'€™s most feared defenses.

With the Rays announcing Loney'€™s three-year, $21 million deal Friday --€“ the largest free-agent contract awarded by current ownership --€“ their safety net behind the mound will be secure for another year, with a veteran first baseman who'€™s part offensive weapon, part Spider-Man at the bag.

"€œHe'€™s a security blanket for the whole infield,"€ Rays manager Joe Maddon said recently. "€œI know every one of them will tell you how happy they are to have him back. '€He'€™s a man'€™s man. You can talk to him and tell straight up, '€˜Nothing phony about this guy.'€™ So for all those different reasons, it'€™s a great get."€

There'€™s no other way to slice this: Loney'€™s return is a win for him and the Rays.

Earlier this winter, as baseball'€™s hot stove sizzled, many names were tossed throughout the Twittersphere as options if Loney were to chase larger free-agent dollars elsewhere: Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Smoak.

Loney, all along, was the Rays'€™ best option. Tampa Bay took a flier on him with a one-year, $2 million deal before last season. The returns were plenty and pleasing.

For the Rays: They received a complete, consistent talent. Loney hit a team-best .299 with 13 home runs and 75 RBI. He produced a .348 on-base percentage (his highest since 2009), a .430 slugging percentage (his highest since 2008) and a 2.7 wins-above-replacement figure, the best in his eight-year major-league career. Maddon, throughout the season, praised Loney'€™s sure glove.

For Loney: He enjoyed a career renaissance, one that resulted in a considerable bump in his bank account. Quiet and reserved, he blossomed within the clubhouse as the season progressed. He reportedly sought a three-year deal worth between $27 million and $30 million this offseason, but the $5 million increase in annual salary is a nice chunk of change for someone who never made more than the $6.375 million he received from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

Add Loney to the list of success stories produced by Maddon and Andrew Friedman, the Rays'€™ executive vice president of baseball operations. The Miami Marlins traded Escobar for infielder Derek Dietrich before last season, and the Cuba native became another player that glowed with Tampa Bay'€™s Midas touch. The infield'€™s success, with those two examples as proof, is due to savvy scouting and sound development within an atmosphere that promotes a positive result.