The Yankees are low on funds and low on infielders, so apparently the plan is to go after the cheapest options possible. The team just let Todd Frazier sign with the Mets on a two-year $17 million deal, so now there aren’t very many alternatives to look at. That’s why the Yankees are now reportedly interested in signing Eduardo Nunez to a free agent contract.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported yesterday morning that several teams had been showing interest in the infielder. Among those mentioned were the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees. Nunez already hit an astounding .321/.353/.539 in the back half of last season for Boston, so the Red Sox might be willing to try him out again. Tampa Bay could use a right-handed bat, but they are just as likely to continue selling. It’s the Yankees that might need someone the most, but is Nunez really the answer?
Both #Yankees and #RedSox have shown interest in free-agent IF Eduardo Nunez, sources say. #Rays, in need of right-handed hitting, also have checked in. Rays monitoring RH bats even while continuing to listen on Odorizzi, Colome, etc. Odorizzi could go to a Darvish runner-up.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2018
It’s hard to really tell what Nunez is at this point. Over his first four seasons with New York, he was a below-average hitter with troubling defense. After all the talk about what he was supposed to be, Yankees fans finally had enough. In the four years since leaving, he has hit .290/.323/.434 as a league-average hitter. The question, of course, is whether or not he can keep up this line of hitting into his age-31 season.
The Yankees could certainly use some versatility in the infield to start the season, but will yet another light-hitting infielder really make a difference? Nunez can play second or third, which are the two positions the team needs to fill the most, but so can a few people. Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade could all get a shot to prove themselves in spring training. Ronald Torreyes still exists, if the team needs a stopgap, and Danny Espinosa will be in camp.
Sure, Nunez can likely hit better than Espinosa, but what about the prospects? The Yankees are far better off going with Torres at second over Nunez. Andujar was just ranked the 14th overall prospect in the game by Fangraphs, so it’s clear that there are those who believe his talent is legit. Are the Yankees going to choose Eduardo Nunez over Andujar at this point?
As I previously mentioned in December, there would be no harm in bringing him in on a minor league deal and using him to start the season. It’s possible that Brian Cashman is attempting to wait him out on that because the best Nunez can hope for at this point is a one-year major league contract. Worst-case scenario, you let him play until midseason, and then you find someone better on the trade market. Best case is he lasts a matter of weeks and Andujar has a big debut.