PITTSBURGH -- With their offense floundering, the Mets again moved on Wednesday to patch a roster gutted by injuries, acquiring infielder Kelly Johnson from the Braves for pitching prospect Akeel Morris. Johnson, whom the Mets first traded for last season, is capable of playing six positions.The move is all but
PITTSBURGH -- With their offense floundering, the Mets again moved on Wednesday to patch a roster gutted by injuries, acquiring infielder Kelly Johnson from the Braves for pitching prospect Akeel Morris. Johnson, whom the Mets first traded for last season, is capable of playing six positions.
The move is all but a copy-and-paste job from last summer, when the Mets, with David Wright on the disabled list, acquired Johnson and Juan Uribe in mid-July. Those two combined with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto to transform the offense almost instantly from one of the game's worst to one of its best.
Considering Wright is again on the DL this year, likely until August, and first baseman Lucas Duda is out until around the All-Star break, the Mets were looking for a similar jolt.
"It's no secret: We have aspirations of winning the whole thing this year," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "So we're not going to sit around and wait. We know what this team is. We know what this team can be, and we're going to give it every chance to get there."
With a recent spate of injuries tearing holes into their depth, the Mets made a quick move to replace Duda earlier this month, acquiring first baseman James Loney from the Padres. Now they have reacquired Johnson, who was hitting .215/.273/.289 in Atlanta. The Mets cared less about those numbers than the 146 home runs he has hit over an 11-year career that, since the start of the 2010 season, has wound through Arizona, Toronto, Tampa Bay, the Bronx, Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta and Flushing.
Morris, 23, made a single appearance for the Mets last season, giving up five runs in 2/3 of an inning. The Mets' 16th-ranked prospect per MLBPipeline.com, Morris was 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 22 relief appearances for Double-A Binghamton this season.
Acquiring the same player via trade multiple years in a row is understandably rare. One notable example was catcher Ron Hassey, whom the Yankees traded to the White Sox in December 1985, and was reacquired from Chicago in February 1986, then traded back to the White Sox five months later.
When Johnson rejoins the Mets on Friday in Milwaukee, he will become a primary backup to Wilmer Flores at third base, Neil Walker at second and Loney at first -- at least until Duda returns from the DL. The team is also without starting catcher Travis d'Arnaud for at least another one to two weeks. Though Johnson hasn't played at third base this season, the Mets plan to give him significant practice time there upon his arrival.
"In a game, in the National League, where double-switches can be so prominent, you've got a guy who can play around," manager Terry Collins said. "I think it does register. I think it shows the guys that, 'Hey, look, we're not going to stand pat here.' And I think that's important that guys know that."
The move is reminiscent to what the Mets accomplished last year, providing a measure of depth across the board. This time, however, the Mets acted quicker, acquiring Loney almost immediately after Duda hit the DL, and Johnson not long after. The Mets are in the middle of their worst offensive stretch of the season, averaging 2.7 runs per game over their last 10, and ranking last in the Majors in total offense since the start of May.
"We're pretty happy to get him back," Ricco said of Johnson. "He was part of a team that went to the World Series last year. We hope he can help us get there again."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.