Red Sox acquire infielder Eduardo Nunez in trade with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 11: Eduardo Nunez
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 11: Eduardo Nunez /

The Boston Red Sox have finally traded for a third baseman.

Only days after promoting top prospect Rafael Devers, the Red Sox have made a splash on the trade market as well, acquiring third baseman Eduardo Nunez from the San Francisco Giants in a three player deal. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke the news on Twitter late Tuesday night.

Given the club’s demand for Devers’ power bat, it’s not immediately clear what role the Giants infielder will play on his new club, though. There’s obviously a hope that his .308/.334/.417 slash line, four home runs, and 17 steals will the void at third – but so could Devers. In addition to his strong ability to get on base and use his legs, Nunez has the versatility to play second, short, and the corner outfield positions in addition to third. While he owns negative defensive runs saved at all positions for his career, being able to plug him in and out of the lineup will be useful nonetheless.

At the very least, he looks to be a strong complement to Devers, who started for the Red Sox Tuesday in Seattle. As a left-handed hitter, Devers will likely be sheltered in the pitching matchups he sees during his entry in the big leagues, which is exactly where Nunez comes in. He’s hit .299/.326/.414 with a 96 wRC+ against lefties this year, which is probably better than Devers can hope to do at such a young age.

It’s also telling that the Red Sox sought for one of the few if only, players available that has the ability to play both third and short – giving John Farrel the chance to rest Xander Bogaerts without sacrificing much offensively. Since incurring a hand injury on July 6, Bogaerts has struggled with a .167 average and just two extra base hits – one has to wonder if a stint on the disabled list is required. If so, Nunez provides a much better replacement bat than Deven Marrero or Brock Holt.

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Speaking of Holt, the writing on the wall is growing ever clearer. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him since he’s been such a favorable part of this team for the past five seasons and a lot of the issues that have plagued him this year have been out of his control. Extended time on the disabled list due to vertigo or post-concussion symptoms, whichever you choose to believe, has limited him to just 16 games thus far. When active, he’s hit just .196 with a .479 OPS and 0 extra base hits, though. Sadly, it doesn’t look like things will get much better for him in 2017.

Heading to San Francisco are two minor league pitchers, right handers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos. Anderson, the Red Sox 18th ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, and third round pick in 2016 has a 3.99 ERA in High-A. As for Santos, the 17-year-old was signed as an international free agent and is currently pitching in the Dominican Summer League, where he owns a 0.90 ERA in seven starts.

Overall, the return on Nunez is bearable. Anderson is worth some intrigue but was drafted as a reliever and isn’t anything too special. There are still plenty of pitching prospects ahead of him in the system. As for Santos, I won’t pretend to have a scouting report on a guy that’s never pitched outside of the Dominican and doesn’t even have a picture on Sox Prospects. I’ll err on the side of him having limited future potential.

Next: Devers and Groome land on MLB Top-100 prospects list

There will surely be much more analysis done on our side over the next couple days and some clarification of Nunez’s role from management as well. One thing that is worth noting right now, is that he’s owed roughly $1.5 million for the duration of the season, and is an impending free agent. Given the fact that he hasn’t strained the farm system or pressed the Red Sox up against the luxury tax, there’s still plenty of room for Dave Dombrowski to acquire a late-inning reliever as well. Trade season isn’t over yet.