If there’s one move that Red Sox fans have been calling for since, well, at least last summer it’s been to cut ties with Eduardo Núñez. It’s an understandable stance given that the infielder has been, by pretty much any all-around player evaluation metric, one of if not the worst players in baseball since the start of last season. The Red Sox brought him back on a one-year deal plus a player option prior to last season, but he will not make it through that entire contract. Núñez was designated for assignment on Monday. Sam Travis takes his place on the roster. In addition, Hector Velázquez was optioned to Pawtucket with Ryan Weber being re-called.
I’m going to have more on Núñez in the morning, so I won’t really touch on that part of this too much here. I will just give the broad strokes, which are that Núñez invoked strong feelings from fans based on his poor play. It’s hard to argue with many of those feelings. That said, when he was on he was among the most fun players to watch on this team and he clearly appeared to be a wonderful player in the clubhouse. Whether that should have been enough to keep him on the roster for as long as he was is a different discussion. Ultimately, I think this was definitely the righty move from a baseball standpoint, but I’m still a little bummed out.
As for the rest of it, it’s fairly straight forward. Sam Travis gives the team a more legitimate right-handed bat off the bench for those situations when Núñez would come in to pinch hit for Brock Holt. He’ll also spell Michael Chavis at first base some times and allow Holt to get some time off with Chavis sliding over to second. Travis is hitting .275/.362/.432 in Pawtucket this year and has a .387 OPS in 31 major-league plate appearances.
As for the pitching move, this is pretty clearly a case of the team just needing some fresh arms. The Red Sox bullpen is already taxed again just three days after the All-Star break, with Sunday’s game in particular causing a large workload. Hopefully Rick Porcello can go deep on Monday, but they needed a backup plan in case they needed multiple innings from the bullpen. Weber will provide that if necessary.
The Red Sox 40-man roster is also now at 39 players. This would provide space if the Red Sox make a trade in the next few days, but more likely it provides space for Nathan Eovaldi’s imminent return. The righty was shifted to the 60-day injured list in late June and thus is not currently on the 40-man. He should be able to return within the next week or two.