The Giants have been linked to middle relievers, closers, starting pitchers, and outfielders. Their first move of trade season, though, was to nab an infielder, nabbing 29-year-old Eduardo Nunez from the Twins in exchange for Adalberto Mejia, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.
Nunez was an American League All-Star this year, hitting .300/.326/.444 for the Twins, leading the AL in stolen bases with 26. He’s already more than doubled his career mark in home runs with 12, splitting time between third and shortstop. For his career, the right-handed Nunez has a .714 OPS against left-handers ... and a .714 OPS against right-handers.
That doesn’t mean the trade isn’t a little curious. While Nunez will be under contract for 2017 (likely at a very reasonable salary, even after arbitration), he didn’t fit the Giants’ most immediate need, and he cost a top prospect. Mejia was the #3 prospect in the system according to Baseball America’s midseason rankings, one of the closest starting pitchers to the majors.
At ... at the risk of being that guy, the deal makes me wonder just how flexible the Giants might be at the deadline when it comes to one of their younger infielders. If that’s not the case, Nunez will still help, providing help at every infield position, giving the Giants’ infielders regular rest and providing a bat off the bench.
If that is the case, well, I’m the guy who complained about John Bowker for Javier Lopez, so check back in a few years to see just how enraged this should make us.
As is, Nunez is better than the other utility infielders on the 25-man roster, while Mejia wasn’t likely to see time in 2016. So while it’s not always rational to ignore everything after this season, there’s at least some solace to be taken that the roster is at least a little better.
A lot better? Don’t know. Not yet. Maybe there was bad news with Matt Duffy, or maybe this is just the Giants covering their bases (baseball term). The Giants traded one of their better prospects for a player in his late 20s who wasn’t very good before 2015, and that’s always a sketchy proposition.
They’ve added versatility, though, with more speed and roster flexibility than they’ve had in previous years. The price was high, and the need was uncertain. But the Giants are, at least, incrementally better right now. Check back on August 2 to see just how much better they can get.