So, I straight-up missed this one earlier in the week. In my defense, I was a little distracted by that whole Red Sox winning the World Series thing, and this bit of news apparently came down immediately after Boston won the whole damn thing. Defensible? That’s up to you!
Anyway, this news is just about as surprising as the Red Sox picking up Chris Sale’s $15 million option for next year. Eduardo Núñez had a player option for the final year of his two-year contract signed last winter, and he opted into that and will be a part of Boston’s roster for the winter. And, probably for the summer. This is according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, as reported by Matt Kelly of MLB.com. Núñez will make $5 million in 2019.
Now, from a pure baseball sense, this probably isn’t great news for the Red Sox. Núñez was more of a detriment for Boston in 2018 than he was a help, at least for most stretches of the year. His defense is a negative, particularly at second base, his bat was slumping for most of the year (he finished with an OPS+ of 81) and his speed has taken a bit of a step back with his knee injuries. In an ideal world, his roster spot is likely better used on someone like Tzu-Wei Lin, Marco Hernandez or another player from outside the organization.
That being said, I’m not going to complain about this because I love this guy. I will say that I don’t think Núñez is as bad offensively as he was in 2018, and he’ll come back with the bat. That’s not to say he’ll be a star, but I expect him to be closer to the league-average hitter he’s been for most of his career. He’s also going to be a blast to watch on the field because he’s an absurd player who goes all-out to the extent that he falls all over himself and his helmet falls all over the place. He’s also fun to watch interacting with his teammates and coaches. As far as his role on the roster, he should be a reserve again, serving as depth for Rafael Devers at third and Dustin Pedroia at second, though I imagine Brock Holt will be a bigger presence at second base than Núñez will. Of course, we have no idea what’s happening with Pedroia at this point.