James Loney signed on with the Padres on a minor league deal last year after being released by the Rays, but he ended up with the Mets after an early-season injury to Lucas Duda forced them to make a move to acquire the veteran first baseman. The 32-year-old ended up carving out a fairly stable role in New York, ultimately starting in over half of the team's games. His output at the plate can best be described as mediocre, but it wasn't bad enough to hold him out of the lineup every night. The lefty also had extreme splits, hitting .282 versus right-handed pitchers but just .173 against southpaws. He signed with the Rangers on a minor league deal over the offseason, but at this stage of his career, Loney is likelier to follow his 2016 path to playing time than to be handed a starting job out of spring training.
Loney signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers on Friday, Fanragsports.com reports. His deal would expand to $1M if he is able to make the major league club. Loney backed up Lucas Duda at first base last season, and slashed .265/.307/.397 across 366 plate appearances in the process. It is unclear at this point where Loney would fit in with the Rangers' roster should he ultimately make the team.
Loney will start at first base in Thursday's Wild Card round matchup with the Giants. Loney started just three of the Mets' last nine games at first base, but manager Terry Collins was forced to choose one of three sub-optimal options -- Loney, Lucas Duda, or Eric Campbell -- to start against Giants ace and southpaw Madison Bumgarner, and he opted to go with the best defender of the bunch. Loney will hit eighth in the Mets' batting order Wednesday night.
Loney, and not Lucas Duda, looks to be the starting first baseman for the Mets' Wild Card contest Wednesday against the Giants, Newsday reports. Loney hit with the first group during batting practice and took more repetitions at first base Tuesday, signs that he is likely to get the nod. Neither player has had much success against Madison Bumgarner, but manager Terry Collins appears to be leaning towards having Loney start the game.
Loney went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead two-run homer in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Phillies. The veteran first baseman snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth with a 408-foot blast to right that plated Curtis Granderson, giving the Mets a lead they would hold. Loney has homers in back-to-back contests, providing four RBI over that span. He's been a solid presence for the Mets in the wake of Lucas Duda's extended absence, slashing .266/.308/.398 with 16 doubles, a triple, nine homers and 34 RBI over 342 at-bats.
Loney went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in Wednesday's victory over the Marlins. Loney had homered just once in his previous 150 at-bats before belting his eighth of the year in the second inning Wednesday. It's been a disappointing year for the 11-year veteran who's played in fewer games than he had in any of his previous eight campaigns. Loney's slash line of .263/.306/.388 this season is well off the 32-year-old's career marks of .284/.336/.409. In fairness, he's been decent in September, and when a righty is on the hill, Loney isn't a bad option.