It’s no secret that the New York Mets are having issues at first base right now. Lucas Duda was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a stress fracture in his lower back. It’s estimated that he’ll be sidelined for about four to six weeks. Eric Campbell has started at the position since Duda’s injury. However, Campbell is not meant to be an everyday player. The Mets need to consider other options.
One option that the team has reportedly been inquiring about is James Loney. Currently with the San Diego Padres organization, Loney has spent the year in Triple-A with the El Paso Chihuahuas. In 154 at-bats, he’s hitting .344 with two home runs and 28 RBIs. His on-base percentage is up to .376. Given that Loney’s currently playing in the minor leagues, the Padres would probably be willing to part with him should the Mets attempt to acquire him.
Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported on Tuesday that the Mets “have some curiosity” about Loney. There’s certainly no reason why they shouldn’t. The reality of the situation is that the team needs a first baseman. Eric Campbell just has not hit enough to justify putting him out there everyday. He can field the position well, but that’s not enough. He’s only batting .192 in 52 at-bats this season, and has just one home run and five RBIs. The Mets don’t really have too many other internal options at first base. Wilmer Flores is expected to be activated from the disabled list later today. He’ll get a chance to be the starting first baseman for the time being. Before he was placed on the disabled list on May 12 with a hamstring injury, Flores was Duda’s primary backup. However, he wasn’t exactly having the best season offensively prior to the injury. Flores is hitting just .180 in 50 at-bats this year, and has a home run and two RBIs. His numbers aren’t really much better than Campbell’s.
The Mets have floated around other internal possibilities, including playing young outfielder Michael Conforto at first base. This would allow center fielder Juan Lagares to get more playing time. This could be a good idea, except for the fact that Conforto has never played first base professionally. Neil Walker sliding over to first base has also been discussed. Although these other options might work, Loney is still the Mets’ best bet.
Loney is a proven major league first baseman who has always put up good offensive numbers. Over the course of his 10-year career, he’s had stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. He’s only batted under .250 in a season once. Last year with the Rays, he batted .280 with four home runs and 32 RBIs. He could definitely provide some stability at first base until Duda is able to return. Given that he’s a left-handed hitter with some power, Loney would fit right into the Mets lineup. When Duda is ready to return, Loney could serve as his main backup, adding more depth to the bench. Depth on the bench is something the Mets have definitely lacked this season.
If the Mets are smart, they’ll try and acquire James Loney as soon as possible. He’s a solid short-term option at first base. There’s no reason not to go out there and get him.