The New York Mets acquired veteran first baseman James Loney from the San Diego Padres organization in exchange for cash considerations, as first reported by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York on Saturday. Manager Terry Collins said to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that Loney will likely not be activated until Monday at the earliest.
Following Lucas Duda’s placement on the 15-day disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back, the Mets entered the market for help at first base. The team was reportedly not satisfied with internal options such as Eric Campbell and the injured Wilmer Flores being the full-time fill-in for Duda.
“We’re not going to be able to replace Lucas Duda internally,” Mets assistant GM John Ricco told Newsday’s David Lennon earlier in the week. Following that report, Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted that the Mets had “some curiosity” about acquiring Loney.
A Ray of Sunshine
Loney, 32, is a 10-year major league veteran who has spent all of 2016 with the Padres’ Triple-A squad. In 43 games with the El Paso Chihuahuas, Loney produced a robust.342/.373/.424 batting line with two home runs and 28 runs batted in (RBIs). Those numbers, albeit minor league totals, are an improvement over Loney’s performance the past two seasons.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 28, 2016
After rebound campaign with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, producing a.299/.348/.430 line with 13 HR and 75 RBIs, the Rays re-signed Loney to a three-year, $21 million deal. While Loney maintained solid offensive numbers the first two seasons of his new deal, his once Gold Glove-caliber defense deteriorated.
According to FanGraphs, the former longtime Los Angeles Dodger saw his defensive runs saved (DRS) and ultimate zone rating (UZR/150) fall into negative totals. So when Loney did little to impress the Rays during Spring Training, the team elected to release him — and pay most of his $8 million salary for 2016 — instead of keeping him on the roster.
“At the end of the day it’s a business. Those aren’t my decisions. I have nothing to do with that,” Loney told several outlets, including the Bradenton Herald after his release.
Two things #Mets like about James Loney; his defense is stellar and he's a left-handed bat. Bonus is good relationship w/TC from Dodger days
— Wayne Randazzo (@WayneRandazzo) May 28, 2016
A career.285/.338/.411 hitter, Loney has proven himself at the game’s highest level before. From 2007-2011, Loney was a.291/.348/.436 hitter and while never considered a home run threat, he averaged nearly 13 HR per season during that span.
It’s expected that Loney’s left-handed bat will platoon at first base with the Mets’ in-house options. Neither Campbell (.169/.286/.237) or Flores (.180/.255/.280) have done much at the plate this year, making Loney’s lefty bat key against right-handed pitchers. The Mets are also concerned about their team captain as they look ahead to their series finale against the Dodgers on Sunday.
Nothing Going Wright
Before the Mets’ blowout 9-1 loss on Saturday night, David Wright was not in the lineup due to a neck issue. Collins and GM Sandy Alderson both expressed concern regarding their third baseman. Those concerns escalated after the loss when Wright didn’t rule out a possible DL stint.
Wright has mostly struggled at the plate this year, hitting to subpar line.226/.350/.438 with 55 strikeouts. Luckily, the homer has not been an issue as Wright has blasted seven dingers this season — including three in the past three games before Saturday.
David Wright has homered in 3 consecutive games. His most recent was his longest since 2013 pic.twitter.com/ep8D5Z2a2J
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2016
If Wright is forced to miss an extended period of time, it’s possible that Loney could see more time at first base with Campbell/Flores also seeing time at the hot corner.
The Return of Wilmer
As mentioned, Flores, who is rehabbing from a hamstring injury, is expected to return as soon as tonight’s game against Los Angeles. He finished his rehab assignment on Saturday by going 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly for Double-A Binghamton.
Flores played in five games on his assignment, appearing at second base twice and first base three times.
[Featured Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]