When the Minnesota Twins gave up on David Ortiz, it was quite a boon for the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz played for six seasons in Minnesota, hitting .266/.348/.461 with an OPS+ of 108 in 1,693 plate appearances. His best season was his last, as he hit 20 home runs, 32 doubles and even a triple while slashing .272/.339/.500 with an OPS+ of 120 in 2002. That didn’t stop the Twins from releasing him in December of that year. Somehow, Ortiz remained unsigned for more than a month before the Red Sox finally scooped him up on January 22, 2003. In that first season with Boston, Ortiz hit 31 home runs and had an OPS+ of 144 and the rest is history.
Ortiz’s rise from Twins castoff to Red Sox star is a bit different that the path Eduardo Nunez took from Minnesota to Boston. Nunez originally came up with the New York Yankees, a team he has still played more years for than any other (four). He was a below average hitter in all four of his years with the Yankees and was far below a replacement level player (-1.5 bWAR). That made it pretty easy to trade him, which the Yankees did in April of 2014, sending him to the Twins for minor league pitcher Miguel Sulbaran. During 2014, Nunez seemed to be pretty much the same player. In 72 games (213 plate appearances) he had an OPS+ of 82, which was actually five points below his 2013 output.
Things changed in 2015 when Nunez finally found his swing, hitting .282/.327/.431 with an OPS+ above 100 (107) for the first time in his career. He was even better in 2016, making his first All-Star game while playing 91 games of 1.6 bWAR-level play for Minnesota before being traded to the San Francisco Giants, whom he helped get to the NL Division Series, where they lost to the Cubs.
During his two and a half seasons with the Twins, Nunez was worth 3.5 wins above replacement, which outpaced Ortiz’s 2.6 in six seasons. However, outside of Minnesota, Nunez has combined to be worth -0.4 wins above replacement, equating to about an average player, including his 100 games with Boston (-0.1 bWAR). That’s even with his brilliance in the back half of 2017 following his trade from the Giants. Ortiz, of course, went on to be worth 52.7 wins above replacement with the Red Sox and will most certainly make the Hall of Fame. All this is to say that while Ortiz’s best years came after Minnesota, Nunez’s came there.
It seems likely the Red Sox will make a trade before the July 31 deadline. Whom will they go after? (Matthew Kory; The Athletic) ($$)
Xander Bogaerts likes to slide into the first more than the average player. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)
Blake Swihart has had to do everything. (Chad Jennings; The Athletic) ($$)
Kutter Crawford has a big fan in Chris Sale. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)
MLB attendance is tanking. (Travis Sawchik; FanGraphs)