Last Thursday we learned that the Red Sox had agreed to terms with Eduardo Nuñez on a two-year deal with an unknown option for the second year pending a physical. Of course, given the infielder’s knee injury at the end of last season passing the physical was less of a sure thing than it is with your typical free agent signing. Well, he has apparently passed a full workout and is officially back with the team. Nuñez is going to make $4 million guaranteed for the first season and has a $4 million player option for the second year with a $2 million buyout. He can also make an additional $2 million if he stays for the second year based on plate appearance incentives between the two seasons.
Nunez gets 4M in 2018, 4M player option in 2019 with 2M buyout. Plus escalators and incentives. #redsox— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 18, 2018
This seems like a great deal for the Red Sox coming in at a surprisingly low number. I know the flaws with Nuñez that have been discussed plenty, mostly surrounding his subpar defense. All of that is fair, and it’s also fair to say that he isn’t the kind of hitter he was in his short time with Boston last season. That being said, he’s at least an average hitter who, assuming the knee is really healthy, is a major plus on the basepaths. Furthermore, he seemed to be really well-suited for Fenway Park and fit in well with the clubhouse. This kind of fits along with the mold of the Mitch Moreland re-signing as the team is bringing back role players who fit in well with the 2017 team. Nuñez also undeniably brought a spark to a team that desperately needed it last summer, and while he (probably) won’t carry the team at any point he is a solid contributor. Presumably, he’ll slide into second base in Dustin Pedroia’s absence and when the latter returns Nuñez will go back to a utility role as Alex Cora tries to get as much rest as possible for his regulars during the grind of a regular season.
In order to make room on Boston’s full 40-man roster, they have designated right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor for assignment. You may recall that Taylor made a name for himself last spring and somewhat surprisingly made his way onto the Opening Day roster. Eventually, he became the designated reliever to ride the bus back and forth from Pawtucket to Boston, but he showed solid abilities with the added bonus of pitching multiple innings. Taylor is not a future star or anything and there are command issues but the 25-year-old may have shown enough last year to merit another team claiming him off waivers. Of course, he also suffered some arm injuries towards the end of the season that could scare other teams away. I would have guessed that Williams Jerez would have been the DFA candidate had they went with a pitcher, but it seems the possible dearth of left-handed depth on the roster made the Red Sox go in a different direction. All things considered I likely would have designated Jerez in this situation, but it’s not an egregious decision to get worked up over by any means.
So, Nuñez is coming back, and Taylor is off the roster for now, perhaps to return in the minors and work his way back to the majors. We’ll have more on the impact of this move in the coming days.