The Braves have chosen to go with an external option in order to replace Freddie Freeman for the next 10 weeks at first base. According to reports from Jon Heyman and Buster Olney, the Braves have reached an agreement with free agent first baseman James Loney.
The Braves are closing in on an agreement with free agent 1B James Loney. He was in spring with TEX, then minors with DET this year.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 18, 2017
As Olney noted, Loney has bounced around with a couple of teams during this season, and he spent last season with the New York Mets. He hit .265/.307/.397 with 89 wRC+ and 9 homers over 100 games with New York last season, which was good for -0.2 fWAR. It’s safe to say that we’re going to be in for a bit of a dropoff in production from the first base position — just a bit.
He didn’t fare much better with Detroit’s AAA affiliate, as he hit .229/.387/.250 over 62 plate appearances at that level. With that being said, the Braves aren’t exactly in a position to be particular about the help that they get at the first base position while Freddie Freeman spends the next 8-10 weeks on the shelf.
It’ll be impossible to truly replace Freeman in the Braves’ lineup during this timespan, but the Braves are at least doing their due diligence to make sure that the wait for their superstar to return won’t be as stressful. Granted, it’ll still be very stressful, but they’ll at least have someone who primarily plays first base on their roster while this is going on.