Veteran first baseman James Loney is taking his talents back out west, as he’s agreed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. The deal with Texas, which likely includes an invitation to spring training, pays Loney a $1 million salary if he’s in the majors in 2017. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Loney who grew up in Texas, not far outside of Houston.
After starting first baseman Lucas Duda went down with a stress fracture in his back last May, the Mets acquired Loney from the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A team for the incredibly low price of $1. While Loney served as a temporary improvement over the likes of Eric Campbell at first base, his .265/.307/.397 line at the plate left much to be desired and he combined that with subpar defense, thanks to 8 errors in half a season and a seeming inability to stretch off of the first base bag or range into the hole to his right.
The Rangers currently have a vacancy at first base with Mitch Moreland leaving for the Red Sox. Texas has kept an eye on the markets of free agents Mike Napoli and Chris Carter and they also have Joey Gallo, the young slugger known as much for his strikeouts as his prodigious power. Should the Rangers sign a first baseman or give the job to Gallo, Loney would likely serve as the starting first baseman for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate the Round Rock Express.