Position: Third Base, Second Base, Shortstop
Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: June 15, 1987 (Age 30)
2017 Stats: 114 games, .313/.341/.460, 491 PA, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 24 SB, 112 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR
Eduardo Nunez was signed as an international free agent in 2004 by the New York Yankees. Nunez was the Yankees sixth best prospect in their organization, and was seen as the eventual replacement for Derek Jeter. Nunez spent five seasons in the Yankees minor league system before making his debut in 2010. He appeared in 30 games in that 2010 season and hit .280 with one home run, seven RBI’s, and five stolen bases. In his four seasons with the Yankees, Nunez hit .267 with 10 home runs, 76 RBI’s, and 48 stolen bases. Despite the praises of his defense, Nunez struggled committing a large number of errors. In 2011, Nunez led the team with 20 errors in 112 games.
After being designated for assignment by New York in 2014, Nunez was traded to the Minnesota Twins. He was sent straight to Triple-A Rochester where he hit .318 in 22 plate appearances before being quickly called up as a utility man off the bench for the Twins. In 72 games, Nunez slashed .250/.271/.382 with four homers, nine stolen bases, and 24 runs batted in. While playing four different positions, Nunez hit .282/.327/.431 in 72 games in 2015 for Minnesota.
Nunez entered the 2016 season in a bench role for the Twins. In 18 games in April, he hit .373, earning himself more playing time. Injuries presented Nunez opportunities as a starter, and he eventually hit is way into the leadoff spot. Nunez earned himself his first MLB All-Star game appearance that season. In the first half of the 2016 season, Nunez hit .321/.347/.489 with 15 doubles, 12 home runs, 40 RBI’s, and 22 stolen bases.
Before the 2016 trade deadline, Nunez was sent to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for a minor league pitcher. At the time, Nunez was hitting .296 with 12 homers, 47 RBI’s, and was leading the American League in stolen bases with 27. Nunez finished the year appearing in 50 games for the Giants, slashing a total of .288/.325/.432 and setting career highs with 16 home runs, 67 RBI’s, and 40 stolen bases.
Nunez was one of the lone bright spots on a miserable 2017 Giants team. He hit .308/.334/.417 with 21 doubles, four home runs, 31 RBI’s, and 18 stolen bases. Just before the trade deadline, Nunez was sent to the contending third base-needy Boston Red Sox. Nunez contributed in Boston right away, as in his first game he homered twice and drove in the game winning RBI. In 38 games with the Red Sox, Nunez hit .321/.353/.539 with 12 doubles, eight home runs, and 27 RBI’s.
Nunez has developed into a reliable starter. Despite the rocky start to his career defensively, he has turned himself into an average defender. In his career at the hot corner, Nunez has committed 30 errors in 592 chances. Since joining the Twins in 2014, Nunez hasn’t had a defensive Wins Above Replacement lower than -1.0.
Nunez makes up for the shaky defense with his bat and his base running ability. He is a serious stolen base threat because he is not only fast, but is also a smart base-runner. Nunez is also coming off one of his best offensive seasons in his career. Since the start of the 2016 season, Eduardo Nunez is one of only six players with at least 25 home runs and 50 stolen bases.
Contract: Hitting the open market as a free agent for the first time in his career, Nunez is in for a payday. However, there is a chance Nunez could be retained by the Red Sox as the two parties have had talks of an extension. I do not see Boston handing him a multiyear deal with top prospect Rafael Devers ready to take over for good at the hot corner, however.
With David Wright undergoing yet another surgery, Nunez would be guaranteed starting time at either second or third with the Mets. Nunez should be looking at around a three-to-four year deal worth about $8-12 million annually.
Recommendation: The Mets should strongly consider Eduardo Nunez as their starting third baseman and leadoff hitter for 2017 and beyond. In Nunez, the Mets would get a veteran presence who can hit for both power and average, steal bases and run the bases well, and is an average fielder. Nunez makes a ton of contact, and has the ability to swipe a bag when he gets on base. He would be a perfect compliment with Amed Rosario at the top of the Mets order.
Although the plan seems to be to pick up Asdrubal Cabrera’s option, the Mets should still take a good look at Nunez. Offensively, his numbers have only gotten better, and he adds a contact/speed element the Mets should be in search for. Eduardo Nunez should be one of the top candidates to replace David Wright at the hot corner for the Mets.