Red Sox announce signing of Eduardo Nunez to one-year deal with player option

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Eduardo Nunez
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Eduardo Nunez /

The Boston Red Sox announced that they have completed a one-year deal for free agent infielder Eduardo Nunez that includes a player option for 2019.

It’s official – Eduardo Nunez is staying with the Boston Red Sox for at least one more season.

The Red Sox announced Sunday morning that they have signed the free agent infielder to a one-year deal that includes a player option for 2019. Right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor has been designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Nunez.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that it’s a $4 million deal. The second year player option is also for $4 million and Nunez will receive a $2 million buyout if he declines the option. That guarantees him at least $6 million. There are also escalators and incentives in the deal that could allow Nunez to earn an additional $2 million.

Reports of the Red Sox reaching an agreement with Nunez surfaced earlier this week but he had to pass a physical before the deal could become official. The last we saw of Nunez was when he had to be helped off the field following a plate appearance in the ALDS. He opted for rest and rehab over surgery to repair the strained posterior collateral ligament in his left knee.

The Red Sox making the signing official confirms they are satisfied with his health. ESPN’s Scott Lauber reported that Nunez passed his physical on Thursday. They also put him through a workout on Friday, which Nunez joked “almost killed” him. The team doctors and trainers agreed that Nunez might feel occasional soreness in his knee but won’t have chronic issues.

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The $4 million salary makes Nunez a bargain. It was expected that he would find a more lucrative multi-year deal following a scorching second half. Nunez hit .321 with a .892 OPS in 38 games with the Red Sox after being acquired in a mid-season trade with the San Francisco Giants. Concerns about his knee may have driven some potential suitors away, although the sluggish free agent market was a significant factor.

The relatively low salary means the Nunez signing shouldn’t impact Boston’s pursuit of J.D. Martinez. Nunez will only cost $4 million for luxury tax purposes this year, regardless of the incentives or player option. That should leave them enough room to fit Martinez on the payroll without going over the $237 million threshold that would trigger the steepest tax, plus draft pick penalties.

Nunez should primarily see time at second base while Dustin Pedroia works his way back from knee surgery. He can also be utilized at third base and shortstop. His versatility is one aspect that made him appealing to the Red Sox. It presumably was a factor in convincing Nunez that he would see sufficient playing time when other teams could have offered him a clear path to an everyday role.

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If Nunez can recapture the magic that made him a second-half spark for the Red Sox last year, they’ll find a spot for him in the lineup.