Mets acquire Loney from Padres

Veteran figures to be half of first-base platoon until Duda returns

Mets acquire Loney from Padres

NEW YORK -- Eyeing a quick and uncomplicated move to replace injured first baseman Lucas Duda, the Mets acquired veteran James Loney from the Padres on Saturday for cash considerations. Loney will become the left-handed half of a first-base platoon until Duda returns from the disabled list in late June at the earliest.

"Loney was sort of an immediate, obvious possibility in terms of ease of acquisition and a variety of other things," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "He can be a nice fit for us."

Batting .342 with two homers in 43 games for San Diego's Triple-A El Paso affiliate, Loney, 32, is tentatively scheduled to join the Mets on Monday. He is a 10-year veteran of the Dodgers, Red Sox and Rays, with a .285 career batting average and 99 homers. Loney's best years came with the Dodgers from 2007-11, when he hit .288 with a .346 on-base percentage and 63 home runs.

"He's got great numbers, a very good hitter," said Mets catcher Rene Rivera, who played with Loney in Tampa Bay last season. "He brings that great defense at first base. It's great for us. We're missing Duda here, and I think that he can step up and help us."

Since the Mets placed Duda on the DL on Monday, they have been regularly starting Eric Campbell at first base. With Wilmer Flores now likely to return from his own DL stint Sunday, he and Loney should form a platoon beginning at that time. Loney owns a career .783 OPS against right-handed pitching, and .653 against lefties.

The Mets could have waited until June 1 to acquire Loney, who could have triggered an opt-out in his contract with the Padres at that time. But with every passing day one closer to Duda's return, the Mets chose instead to pay a nominal fee for Loney's immediate services.

One scout who recently saw Loney play at Triple-A agreed that his top skill is defense, which the scout described as close to Gold Glove caliber. Another lauded Loney's contact-oriented plate approach, but warned of "limited power."

"He'll add a nice dimension to us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's a very good first baseman. He's a good offensive player, but not necessarily a big power guy. I've known him since he was 17, so a tremendous guy in the clubhouse."

Regardless of what Loney brings, the Mets need him only until Duda is ready to return. The Mets' longtime first-base starter is nearly a week into what the team has estimated as a four- to six-week recovery from a stress fracture in his lower back. That would peg Duda's return at right around the All-Star break, or slightly before then.

"We had had some reports from earlier in the month, and felt this was the best move for us at the moment," Alderson said. "Hopefully, Lucas is back soon, but in the meantime we felt as if we needed another left-handed bat."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.