The New York Mets have traded for James Loney, according to the team’s official twitter account. The move was first reported by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 28, 2016
Loney himself confirmed the move soon after the initial reports surfaced with this from his verified twitter account:
— James Loney (@theloney_s) May 28, 2016
Loney had been playing for the El Paso Chihuahuas, the AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres, after signing a minor league contract with the Padres earlier this year. He previously spent ten seasons in the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Loney was at one time a blue-chip prospect who was thought to be a potential all-star, but never quite lived up to the hype in Los Angeles. He was dealt to the Red Sox in the infamous 2012 Nick Punto trade, which sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and their large contracts in exchange for a fistful of players and payroll space.
That following offseason, he signed a one-year contract with the Rays and had arguably the best season of his career, slashing .299/.348/.430 in 158 games and helping the Rays to an unexpected wild-card berth. Tampa Bay rewarded him the next winter with a three-year, $21 million deal, which at the time was the largest contract in the low-budget franchise’s history. The Rays released him after a dismal 2015 season and 2016 spring training, however, and the Padres gave him a minor league contract as an extra safety net for injury-prone first baseman Wil Myers, Loney’s former teammate in Tampa Bay.
Since the Mets’ first baseman Lucas Duda went on the disabled list with a back fracture that is expected to sideline him for up to three months, rumors quickly spread that they were interested in acquiring Loney, as they had no incumbent left-handed backup option for Duda. Loney is expected to share time at first base with Eric Campbell, who had been filling in for Duda in the short term, and Wilmer Flores, who is currently still rehabbing from an injury of his own in AA.
Loney owns a career slash line of .285/.338/.411 with a 105 OPS+. His first action as a Met will likely come against his former team, as New York is currently hosting the Dodgers for a three game weekend series.