Eduardo Nunez was once considered a potential successor to Derek Jeter as the New York Yankees’ starting shortstop, but he lost a spring training battle for a roster spot this year, was designated for assignment last week and has now been traded to the Minnesota Twins for a minor league pitcher.
The Twins have started Pedro Florimon at shortstop every game so far this season, and he started 127 games for them there in 2013 due primarily to a lack of other options. Florimon is a very good defensive player, which I’m sure advanced statistics back up, but he only has two hits so far this season and hit just .221 with nine home runs and 44 RBI in 403 at-bats last season. Florimon did have 15 stolen bases in 21 attempts in 2013, but he doesn’t get on base enough to maximize his impact in that area and largely negates his defensive value by being so inept with a bat in his hands.
Nunez has not been markedly better than Florimon offensively, with a career slash-line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .267/.313/.379 over 827 major league plate appearances, but he did have 22 stolen bases in 112 games with the Yankees in 2011 and his .260 batting average in 2013 is far better than anything Florimon has done in that category to this point in his career. Nunez brings some versatility with him as well, with a bit of experience at second base, third base and in the outfield during his time with the Yankees.
Nunez has already been assigned to Triple-A Rochester, but it should only be a matter of time before he gets called up and given a legit chance to unseat Florimon as the Twins’ every day shortstop. Florimon certainly has his place, ideally as a utility infielder/late-inning defensive replacement and nothing more, so I applaud the Twins for expecting more than an occasional web gem from their regular shortstop and making some sort of effort to replace him.