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Friday, July 29, 2016

What Eduardo Nunez trade means

As we've been discussing over much of the last month-plus, the Giants primary focus heading into the trade deadline would be pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Whether it be another capable starter as insurance to the bipolar production from Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, or a couple of late relievers to help a bullpen in need. Alas, it was neither, at least of yet, as the Giants dealt for breakout infielder Eduardo Nunez on Thursday night.

We'll first talk about the guy coming to the Giants, and that is Nunez, a career utility infielder up until this season where he's really broken out at the plate and earned himself an everyday job in Minnesota. Now, Target Field is no hitters paradise so for the 29 year-old Nunez to take off with his best offensive year playing half his games in that yard tells you how hot he's been. With the Twins in 86 games, he slashed a respectable .296/12/46/.764 with 27 stolen bases. Transfer those numbers over to the Giants and he'd be leading the team in hitting and big flies (tied with Posey) and by far leading in stolen bases. So yes, it's easy to see why the Giants viewed Nunez as a guy who can potentially come in and fill in all over the infield and even left field in a pinch. I see the logic with both Joe Panik (who made his return Thursday) and Matt Duffy battling nagging injuries and both uncertain on how much playing time and how much production they'll be able to provide these final two months of the regular season and into October. So yes, this deal does make a ton of sense because both Nunez's production and versatility as well as the question marks (health wise) the Giants have at third, second and even left field with the fragile Angel Pagan.

That being said, Matt Duffy is starting his rehab assignment next week, and Joe Panik/Angel Pagan seemingly hit the DL every other month with some sort of injury, so the depth will be nice. As I said at the top of the post, Nunez's numbers are equal or better than any other guy on the Giants current roster so it's hard to sideline him even if Duffy does come back strong. I mean, Duffy, while I have full confidence in him eventually figuring out his swing and approach at the plate again, is having an underwhelming season at the plate this year (terrible by third basemen standards), to say the least, and Nunez, based on numbers alone, should have the job over him. Panik has put up some better stats when he's been on the field but he too has been missing a lot of games these last couple of seasons due to random injury. So again, it's not a bad idea to have a guy like Nunez around especially considering the current circumstances and the Giants rough offensive showing since the All-Star break.

Now, all that said, there are some negatives to this deal as well. The Giants had to part with their top left-handed pitching prospect in the deal, giving away Adalberto Mejia, who just may well go on to become the next Francisco Liriano for the Twins (I'm sure that was in the back of their minds when they decided to pull the trigger) for a guy who before this year would have to battle to make a 25-man roster. Also, Nunez's defense leaves a lot to be desired. He's not going to be Brandon Crawford when he plays short, not even close, and he's not as steady as Duffy is at the hot corner either, so you are sacrificing some defense for some offense in this case. It's really going to come down to the health of three players. If Duffy, Panik or Pagan get hurt again and/or miss significant time down the stretch then this deal should pan out well for the Giants. If those guys come back strong, and Nunez ends up on the bench more than he's on the field then the Giants will have parted with a valuable trade chip for a guy who may become a very expensive utility outfielder for them in 2016. He's arbitration eligible and after this year and because of he's a middle infielder, he could get over $5M in arbitration next winter. However, the other way to look at it is, if he is indeed capable in left and the Giants feel confident in him as an everyday guy there, he could take over that spot in 2017 as Pagan is in the last year of his deal.

So there are a lot of different angles to this one. As long as Mejia doesn't turn out to be a solid number three or four starter in a couple years then no sweat off the Giants back. However, if Nunez continues to slump (he's been having a rough month in Minny) and becomes a middling utility guy in SF and Mejia continues growing and is a key cog in the Twins rotation in 2018 then the Giants will look pretty silly for this one.

All in all, I like it in the sense of "go for it this year and next year mode" (especially with so many injuries biting the Giants infield right now), but I feel like Mejia probably could have been packaged with another player or two to get someone to come in and really make in impact in that bullpen or starting rotation. Like with all deals, only time will tell, but with this one I'm pretty indifferent on this one right now. I don't love absolutely it but I certainly don't hate it and I definitely see the logic in Bobby Evans' thinking when pulling the trigger on this one.

It also means that, with Pagan a free-agent to be, the Giants realistically fill out an everyday lineup card without having to make a move for a starting positional player. They may wanna upgrade LF over by letting Pagan walk, then have Nunez as a back-up plan if they can't add anyone. Or, if they do get someone (Jay Bruce for example) then Nunez becomes one of the best utility options in the league for them, albeit a potential pricey one.

Extras: As I said earlier, Joe Panik finally made his long-awaited return Thursday and went 0-4 while hitting out of the third spot in the lineup... Also, the Giants aren't nearly done on the trade front as they've been closely linked to Pirates closer Mark Melancon and I'd be very surprised if they didint bring in another left-handed reliever at some point, though that may come through waivers if Javy Lopez doesn't figure it out in the next few weeks. I do think the Giants are absolutely out on adding another starting pitching though now, and will really be relying heavily on Matt Cain being serviceable as a fifth man and Jake Peavy continuing his improvement over his horrendous first two months of the season.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 9:01 PM, Anonymous CarlisBad said…

    I love the deal cuz who besides Liriano and Duval? which Giants prospects have gone to become all-star players? They seem to really know which ones to deal and I don't know who the minor league GM is but give that guy some kudos.

    A all-star who can play 4 positions and has numbers better than any of our hitters this year for a guy they saying may become a 5th starter or set-up guy but is no sure bet for that. Hell yes, 7 times a week and twice on Sunday.

    Now go get us a solid reliever or two Sabes, and I don't know bout you but I still think they need a starting pitcher kinda like Leake last year. Not a huge splash but a guy who can be a good backup to Cueto and Bum and Samardizja cuz Peavy and Cain especially have been inconsistent.
    -Carl from Carlsbad

  • At 9:13 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    While I agree with a lot of what you say about this trade, there have been a few more former Giants move on to play well that your forgetting. Zach Wheeler, when he gets healthy will be a #2 or #3 guy. Then there's Heath Hembree, who would look pretty darn good at the back of the Giants pen right now (granted Peavy was huge in '14's championship run) and also Tommy Joseph. Again, Giants would do Pence trade 100 times over but the Giants have given up some decent players the last few years. But yes, in general, the Giants have made out well with their dealing of prospects since their championship era. I'm sure the only one they'd take back would be the Beltran deal but at the time, most people were for it.

    That said, I don't expect Mejia to be an all-star at any point of his career but he does have the stuff to make a big league rotation if he gets his command of everything down. Plus if Nunez can make the Scutaro-impact (minus some average add some pop and versatility) that many people think he can in San Fran, this is going to look pretty nice for the Giants.

  • At 2:12 AM, Anonymous Giants Fan Page said…

    Love the trade absolutely A++ for Evans and Sabean for this move. Mejia kinda stalled the last couple seasons after looking like a potential jonathan sanchez type before that. Could still be that but an all-star bat who can play all over the diamond is what they needed and we saw it pay off in his first game on Saturday with that double. Also his speed. he may be the fastest guy on the squad now? Who's faster? Span looks a step slower, Pagan and Blanco are above average but I think Nunez is top speed guy too. All around good player so whats not to like about this trade? Still would like to see them get another good starter and another good reliever but that's me just being greedy. I think there good enough right now to win a championship. Those front three arms and Pence/Posey/Belt/Nunez/Crawford should provide plenty of offense... I see some more even year magic on the horrizon.. Can't wait till September!


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