The San Francisco Giants finally made a trade. It wasn’t for a pitcher, which is what they have publicly said is there biggest need, but getting Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins was a great addition of a versatile player in the midst of a career season. Nunez is a spark plug, kind of in the mold of Angel Pagan—just a younger, right-handed version who plays infield. That’s pretty much what the Giants need on offense, because their lineup is lacking spark.
Nunez has been Minnesota’s primary shortstop this season, though he is capable of handling third and second bases. And he was the Twins’ best offensive player, having hit 12 home runs (while playing home games at cavernous Target Field) and swiping 27 bases. He doesn’t walk much, but the career-best .296 batting average he’s sporting shows he’s good with the bat. While he has been in a slump lately, batting .182 over his past 15 games, it’s not worth getting too caught up in that—everyone goes through down periods from time to time.
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While he was an all-star a couple weeks ago, it’s not a sure thing he will continue playing like one. I’m not in the business of predicting downturns in performance (I’ll let the BABIP dorks pretend they have a clue about doing that), but there are some areas of concern with Nunez, including the recent slump. That’s because it’s not uncommon for players to be great during one half of a season and then eye-shuttingly awful during the other half. Also, he’s a 29 year-old who has already set a career high this season in at-bats. So, he has no track record of playing at a high level over a full season.
While there are some concerns, Nunez certainly brings some positives to the plate, beyond just his impressive stats. He put up his big numbers despite batting in a Twins lineup that is one of the league’s weakest. So, surrounded by the likes of Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and Pagan, he could potentially be even better than he was with Minnesota.
That’s assuming, though, that Nunez doesn’t fall into the aforementioned category of one-half wonders, that Manager Bruce Bochy allows him to continue stealing bases, and that he gets regular playing time—opposed to just becoming a backup infielder.
As a utility player, Nunez would be great. But the Giants gave up a decent pitching prospect, Adalberto Mejia, to get him, which would seem to indicate they have faith in him and that they plan on playing him a lot. They might even want him to be their regular third baseman instead of Matt Duffy, which would be a good idea, considering that Duffy was mired in a season-long sophomore slump prior to landing on the disabled list.
It certainly doesn’t answer all of the Giants’ problems, but the Nunez trade makes the Giants better. Now they need to shore up the bullpen if they have designs on competing against the Cubs in the postseason.