NEW YORK -- Stuck among the National League's worst offensive teams for most of this summer, the Mets on Friday saw their season-long hunt for offense finally bear fruit. The club announced late Friday that it has acquired third baseman Juan Uribe, utility man Kelly Johnson and cash from the Braves, in exchange for pitching prospects John Gant and Rob Whalen.
Mets officials declined comment on the deal before it was official, but plan to address it at length on Saturday. In making the trade official, the Mets also announced that they designated veteran outfielder John Mayberry Jr. for assignment, optioned Danny Muno to Triple-A Las Vegas and transferred David Wright to the 60-day disabled list.
In sum, the night proved transformative for the Mets. The club completed the trade on the same day that it promoted No. 3 prospect Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton straight to the big leagues, about a week shy of their target date for starting catcher Travis d'Arnaud to return from the disabled list. Combined with Wright's eventual return, the deal should give the Mets -- still just three games out of first place in the NL East, despite their 2-6 stumble since the All-Star break -- the type of offensive depth they haven't enjoyed all season.
Uribe, 36, has already been traded once this season, going from the Dodgers to the Braves in a late-May deal. He batted .272 over 75 games in those two lineups, with five of his eight home runs coming against left-handed pitchers. A natural third baseman, Uribe has also played a significant amount of second base and shortstop in his career, giving the Mets options once Wright returns from the DL.
Johnson, 33, hit .275 with nine homers in 62 games for the Braves. One of the game's most versatile defensive players, Johnson has manned five positions already this season -- most prominently left field, first and third base. With both he and Uribe in New York, the Mets may have little choice but to slide Daniel Murphy back to second base and Wilmer Flores back to shortstop, or the bench; manager Terry Collins will address those issues Saturday.
Beyond versatility, however, the Mets were seeking offensive thump, and were more interested in paying dollars than prospects to acquire it. Uribe and Johnson are making a combined $8 million this season, and will both be free agents after the year -- rentals, essentially, for a lineup that entered Friday ranked last in the NL in batting average, slugging and runs scored.
In exchange for those two and a portion of their salaries, the Mets parted ways with a pair of general manager Sandy Alderson's former Draft picks. Whalen, 21, was the Mets' 18th-ranked prospect, posting a 3.36 ERA over 14 starts and one relief appearance this season for Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Gant, 22, owns a career 3.38 ERA in the Minors. He was unranked on MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Mets list.
Mayberry, 31, signed a $1.45 million contract last winter to give the Mets some right-handed thump off the bench, but he hit just .164 with 33 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances. Muno has spent most of this season shuttling back and forth between Las Vegas and New York, batting .148 in 27 big league at-bats.