The Mets acquired 10-year veteran James Loney from the Padres for cash considerations Saturday, closing the considerable hole at first base left by Lucas Duda’s injury. While Duda is on the disabled list recovering from the stress fracture in his back, the Mets will have a solid defensive first baseman with a lifetime .285 batting average to help man the position.
The lefthanded-hitting Loney could be part of a platoon at first with righthanded-hitting Wilmer Flores, who is on a minor-league rehab assignment while coming back from a hamstring injury.
“We are very, very happy to get James. He’ll add a nice dimension to us,” manager Terry Collins said. “He’s a very good first baseman. He’s a good offensive player . . . [and a] tremendous guy in the clubhouse.”
“It’s good for us,” said catcher Rene Rivera, who played with Loney with Tampa Bay. “We’re missing Duda here. James Loney, I think, he can step up and help us.”
Loney, 32, is in the final season of a three-year, $21-million deal he signed with the Rays. They cut him on April 3 and are responsible for almost the entirety of his $8-million salary this season. The Mets will pay him a prorated part of the major-league minimum.
After Loney was cut, the Padres signed him to a minor-league deal, and he was hitting .342 with a .373 on-base percentage and 28 RBIs in 43 games for Triple-A El Paso. In his last three seasons with the Rays, he hit .299, .290 and .280, respectively.
“Loney was sort of an immediate obvious possibility, in terms of ease of acquisition and a variety of things,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “We took a look at what might be available to us out there. We had somebody go in and look at James last week [for] a couple days, we’d had some reports from earlier in the month and felt this was the right move for us at the moment.”
Alderson said Loney will join the team Sunday or Monday. The Mets started Eric Campbell at first base for the seventh straight game Saturday night. He entered play with a .182 average.