San Francisco Giants third baseman Eduardo Nunez couldn’t buy a hit in April.
But after the Giants shook things up by calling up top third base prospect Christian Arroyo, a light switch suddenly went on for Nunez. A little competition at the position may have ignited Nunez to do better.
From the start of 2017 to Arroyo’s call-up, Nunez was hitting .253 with no home runs and a .283 on-base percentage in 87 at bats. The former top New York Yankees prospect looked lost at the plate with no hope of recovering.
But with a dose of healthy competition, Nunez, 29, started to resemble his All-Star form. Last year, the Giants acquired Nunez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for lefty pitching prospect Adalberto Mejia. The Giants hoped Nunez could fix their slumping offense.
With Arroyo becoming an instant, albeit limited, success, Manager Bruce Bochy was forced to move Nunez to left field, an uncomfortable position for him. While Nunez’s outfield defense suffered, his bat heated up.
Since the call-up, Nunez is hitting .300, with four home runs, 24 RBIs, and a .325 on-base
percentage in 237 at-bats. The ball is now flying off his bat, and he’s moved to the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
In Sunday’s game, he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored, fueling the Giants’ 13-8 comeback win against his former team, the Twins.
Arroyo, who was hitting below .200 since he was sent down, is now in AAA-Sacramento working on getting his timing back. The Giants figure Arroyo to be the third baseman of the future, so what does that mean for Nunez?
Since Nunez is a defensive liability in left field, and he’s a free agent at the end of the season, the Giants could look to trade him to a contender if their freefall in both the National League West and the NL Wildcard continues. San Francisco is 15 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the West and 13 games out of the Wild Card race (with eight teams to climb over).
The Giants could trade Nunez to a playoff-hopeful, say the Boston Red Sox, and get some prospects for their depleted minor league system. The Red Sox are still searching for a consistent player for the hot corner, with the struggles of Pablo Sandoval and a current platoon situation.
And with every Giants minor league affiliate towards the bottom of the standings, they need all the help they could get down there.
For now, the Giants hope Nunez’s success could propel them back into the playoff picture.