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ATLANTA -- Jeff Francoeur was sent packing in his hometown again.
Thirteen months after the New York Mets acquired Francoeur from the Atlanta Braves, the popular right fielder was on the move again Tuesday night. The Mets sent Francoeur to the Texas Rangers for 25-year-old infielder Joaquin Arias, in time for Francoeur to be eligible for the Rangers' postseason roster.
|Francoeur was a very popular member of the Mets' clubhouse.|
Lucas Duda was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to take Francoeur's spot in the outfield. Right-hander Jenrry Mejia also was promoted as rosters expanded. The 20-year-old right-hander likely will start Saturday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Francoeur, 26, is making $5 million this season and is arbitration-eligible. Because his production did not match that salary, the Mets were expected to cut him loose in December had Francoeur not been dealt.
"Obviously they see that I don't fit in the plans next year here. We all saw that coming the last two, three weeks especially," said Francoeur, who went 1-for-3 in the Mets' 9-2 loss to the Braves on Tuesday, before receiving word the trade had been consummated. "They're giving me an opportunity and taking care of me. And to that I could forever be grateful."
The Mets will not get any salary relief in the swap, Mets assistant GM John Ricco said. Instead, the Mets will cover the remainder of Francoeur's salary and Texas will cover Arias' salary.
Francoeur batted .237 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs and had a .293 on-base percentage in 401 at-bats this season.
"It's kind of bittersweet," Francoeur said. "Going into the year I didn't envision the year going the way it did for me personally and for the team. But, at the same time, I feel I came out to play hard every day. Sometimes, yeah, it wasn't the best and I sure get frustrated.
"This is going to be obviously a good opportunity for me to go play obviously against some lefties and go to the playoffs. I remember in '05 when I came up with the Braves I went to the playoffs. I kind of got spoiled because I thought that's how it was every year. For me, the last four years I haven't really been in a pennant race. So to get a chance to go out there and hopefully help out in every way I can and go to the playoffs, that's going to be a fun opportunity I'm going to relish."
Arias will report to the Mets, not the minors. He played for the Mets' Triple-A manager, Ken Oberkfell, in winter ball last season in the Dominican Republic.
With Jose Reyes sidelined with a right oblique injury, and with rookie Ruben Tejada struggling at the plate and Luis Castillo not in the long-term plans despite being under contract for next season at $6 million, Arias will enter the middle-infield mix. He hit .276 with nine RBIs in 98 at-bats this season with Texas and coincidentally was designated for assignment when ex-Met Alex Cora joined the Rangers.
"He's a young middle infielder who we have good reports on," Ricco said. "He played for Ken Oberkfell last winter, a guy who we think has some upside -- some big-time tools. He plays second base, shortstop. He's a good addition. He gives us more depth in the middle infield, and at 25 is still a young guy who we can put into the mix for one of those middle-infield spots."
The 24-year-old Duda, a seventh-round pick out of the University of Southern California in 2007, is a natural first baseman who has primarily played the outfield this season. After a June promotion from Double-A Binghamton, Duda put up big numbers with Triple-A Buffalo: .314 (83-for-264), 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 70 games.
As for Francoeur, third baseman David Wright and hitting coach Howard Johnson seemed to be the closest to him and most hard-hit by his departure. They particularly enjoyed sharing fantasy-football talk. They are scheduled to draft teams Saturday in Chicago after a game against the Cubs. Francoeur suggested he'd send an envoy to conduct the draft for him.
"With Carlos [Beltran] coming back next year and knowing what Angel [Pagan] has done this season, they're not going to need me as a fourth outfielder," Francoeur said. "This is an opportunity for me to go play for a World Series. What better thing to do than that? It's been a tough couple of weeks here. We've been grinding away every day and it just hasn't happened."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.More from ESPNNewYork.com »