Nov
28

Valuing Eduardo Nunez

By

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

As fans, we come up with our own evaluations of players. They’re impacted by our emotions and confirmation bias, though I think we’ve done a better job of being more objective over the years. Teams have their own evaluations of players as well, evaluations based on stats and hordes of scouting reports dating back to when the player was just some kid in Single-A. The evaluations of fans and teams are often totally different, that much is obvious.

Over the last two or three years, another thing has become obvious: Major League teams value Eduardo Nunez. The Braves have interest in him for the second straight offseason, and the Mariners wanted him in the Cliff Lee non-trade last year. Those are just the rumors we’ve heard about, but I’m willing to bet several other clubs have inquired about his availability without us knowing. We see Nunez as a hacker at the plate and unable to consistently make the routine throw, but other teams see him as a valuable piece. Why? I’ll give you six reasons why…

  1. Aaron Hill, two years and $11M
  2. Clint Barmes, two years and $10.5M
  3. Mark Ellis, two years and $8.75M
  4. Jamey Carroll, two years and $6.75M
  5. Willie Bloomquist, two years and $3.8M
  6. John McDonald, two years and $3M

Those six players have signed those contracts this offseason. They average 34.5 years of age, hit a combined .255/.307/.351 in 2011, and will earn an average of $3.65M next season. Nunez turned 24 in June, hit .265/.313/.385 in 2011, and will earn roughly $500k next season (as well as the year after). Now it’s easy to see why other teams have been asking the Yankees about Nunez. The middle infield market is absolute garbage these days.

It’s great that the Yankees have an asset in Nunez, an asset other teams covet, but what exactly should they do with him? We could argue this nonstop from here until Opening Day, and I don’t think there’s a right answer. If a deal comes along that will allow them to add an impact starting pitcher, then they should trade him. If nothing like that materializes, then they should keep him because Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter aren’t getting any younger. There’s no rush to do anything right now, so the Yankees can wait to see just what offers come along, if any.

Is Nunez a frustrating player to watch? Oh hell yes, there’s little argument to be made there. Frustrating does not mean worthless though. Eduardo has real life value as long as the middle infield situation around the game remains awful and utility guys are getting two guaranteed years and starting spots on the open market. It’s just a question of whether he’s more valuable to the Yankees on their roster, or as trade bait.

Categories : Players

54 Comments»

  1. I think if you don’t see him as the successor to Jeter (I probably don’t), you have to trade him while his value is high.

    Now obviously, as mentioned above, you don’t take just anything for him, but if you can get value (which seems like you can) then pull the trigger, especially for starting pitching.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      There’s real value is having a cheap, fairly competent back-up for Jeter and A-Rod (and Cano), too, though. Depending on who the SP is exactly he may or may not be perceived by the Yankees as a better value than Nunez… another question mark to throw in with Nova, Garcia, Hughes, Burnett, Noesi, Phelps, Warren, Banuelos, Betances, etc. only has so much value. I would imagine it would depend largely on the Yankees’ scouting report and projection for the guy.

      Maybe a young RF prospect, a different UTL, and maybe a really, really good reliever… but otherwise seems like SP or keep him.

      • Preston says:

        Nunez really provided energy for the Yankees off of the bench. It’s not ideal but he’s good enough to start at either 3b or SS for extended periods without us suffering to much. I also think his speed on the base paths brings an added element to our team. I would only trade him for a cheap young LHP for the bullpen or in a package for a solid 3rd starter. Anything less would be a less valuable asset to the team.

  2. Ted Nelson says:

    Great piece. I think that this has got to be one of the best articles I’ve read on this site, and really one of the best pieces of MLB analysis I’ve read anywhere.

  3. MattG says:

    It’s a great time to be shopping Nunez, but the only market more depressed is the “impact starting pitcher” market.

  4. mike says:

    He is not capable (at this point) of being more than a stop-gap for ss/2B, and he cannot make effective throws from 3B. He apprears to have sneeky power in his swing and big zone like Soriano used to, but it is a long swing and likely would be better as an everyday player – not as a bench player.

    Since Cano and Jeter are basically Iron Men, and there will likely be a bac-up 3b/1b (ie Chavez) on the roster, I agree if there is market-value in Nunez then trading him might offer a good chance to help out the staff.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      “Since Cano and Jeter are basically Iron Men …”

      Well, they have been to this point and it’s likely that Cano will remain so for the next couple of years. Jeter? We can only hope. Also, the Yankees don’t have anyone outstanding in the pipeline to take over for him after the ’13 or ’14 season and as we’ve seen, FA’s are getting harder and harder to acquire. Unless they get that “impact starting pitcher”, I think he’s too valuable to give up. Of course, the Yankees may think differently.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I see the “FA are getting harder to acquire” or “teams are really locking up young players more” meme a lot… but haven’t seen any real analysis. I’m just not sure that impact free agents were ever that easy to get or teams were every letting young studs walk en masse. This off-season alone Pujols, Fielder, Reyes, Darvish, Wilson, Buehrle, Jackson, Papelbon, Bell, Cespedes, Rollins… there’s a lot of free agent talent to be had. In my memory it’s always been pretty rare for a total stud to hit free agency at a young age.

        There could absolutely be a change, I’m just not as sold on it as a lot of people seem to be.

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          Valid opinion. I think because we’ve recently seen an example of the Yankees being unable to get the FA they want (Lee last year) and a few young studs getting locked up with their current team before hitting FA and it just feeds what we percieve.

  5. Soam says:

    Good article, but still seems to sell Nunez short. When I was seeing the contracts those guys were getting that was the first thing that came to mind. Nunez is better than any of these guys, with more potential, younger, cost controlled and can play multiple positions. His speed is a great asset also. He is a great player to have on the bench with two aging guys like A-Rod and Jeter, I don’t trade him just to sell high. I think Nunez can be another brett gardner type(not meaning he will be a gold glove defender or have high OBP skills) but in a sense that he can play up the middle position, and give you overall above average contributions on the cheap for 4-5 years. That’s not something to take lightly these days.

  6. Soam says:

    Just to elaborate, I would trade him in the right deal, but I don’t trade him now just for the sake of selling high. I think Nunez can surprise a lot of people if given the chance to play every day (not that he should get it with us, our infield is set)

  7. CJ says:

    Interesting. I posted this question recently in comments following Atlanta’s interest in Nunez. Specifically questioning his value based on the Clint Barmes contract. Even more interesting is that my comment/question did not warrant a single reply.

  8. CJ says:

    Interesting. I posted this question recently in comments following Atlanta’s interest in Nunez. Specifically questioning his value based on the Clint B. contract. Even more interesting is that my comment/question did not warrant a single reply.

    • Peter R says:

      Interesting. I posted this question recently in comments following Atlanta’s interest in Nunez. Specifically questioning his value based on the Clint B. contract. Even more interesting is that my comment/question did not warrant a single reply.

  9. Curtis says:

    Interesting. I posted this question recently in comments following Atlanta’s interest in Nunez. Specifically questioning his value based on the Clint B. contract. Even more interesting is that my comment/question did not warrant a single reply.

  10. Cuso says:

    You can’t trade him “just to trade him.”

    You have to get quality pitching that you will have control of for 2-3 years at least.

    Trading him for a 1-year 36-year old SP is not appealing in the slightest.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      First, what’s up with your link? I clicked it and my anti-virus software had to block an “incoming attack.”

      Is this a comment on the article or a specific comment?

  11. viridiana says:

    Very solid post. Nunez, I’d agree, should not be traded unless he can help bring in front-line pitching. Yanks thin in upper level everyday prosects. With new CBA rules, I believe that those they have are more valuable today than just a few days ago. Will be needed to pad roster and offset all those high-dollar contracts.

  12. Peter R says:

    As we always say around here….if your kid plays baseball and wants to be in the majors make sure he is a shortshop or a lefty reliever. You may even get multi-year deals worth millions these days.

  13. viridiana says:

    Yeah, but not a lefty shortstop. Not many of those around.

  14. V says:

    Interesting. I posted this question recently in comments following Atlanta’s interest in Nunez. Specifically questioning his value based on the Clint B. contract. Even more interesting is that my comment/question did not warrant a single reply.

  15. MattG says:

    Who would be the in-house option to replace Nunez? It is still Ramiro Pena, right? Or if they needed a 2B, it might be CuJo, or Adams if he’s healthy. With Cano being very dependable, and Jeter nearly so, I feel the Yankees have enough depth without Nunez.

    I would look to cash in the Nunez chip. He has no future on the team, and his value can only diminish as he nears arbitration. An impact starter is a pipe dream, but I would consider other holes. The minor leagues remains thin on upper level position prospects, particularly in the outfield, and there could be an open spot in the outfield some 2013.

    • Dan says:

      I don’t think the Yankees really have the depth that you think they have without Nunez. As we saw last year, with both A-Rod and Jeter getting older, they are getting injured more frequently. Nunez gives them someone who can play multiple positions, and if he learns to play the outfield as well it could add another position to his game. Look at how valuable a player like Figgins was years ago for the Angels. Also, you are assuming that players like CuJo and Adams are going to be able to handle ML pitching when I don’t believe they have even faced AAA pitching yet. And if the Yankees have to use Pena for more than 15-20 games, they are probably in trouble.

      • MattG says:

        Yes, but…

        One assumption is that there will be a different bench player, such as Chavez, to back-up Rodriguez. I know Chavez has his own issues, but there is also Laird should Chavez get hurt too.

        Another assumption is that Nunez will not be considered for the starting shortstop role for the Yankees, ever. If the best case (for Nunez) happens, and he manages 500 at bats of .330/.420 ball with solid defense, he will still be one year closer to arbitration, and no closer to a starting role for the Yankees. If another team views him as their everyday starter right now, he will need to perform at something close to his best case just to maintain that value.

        Which leads to the third assumption: someone will be willing to trade a prospect that profiles as a major league starter in the corner outfield. I wouldn’t want Nunez’s equivalent in an OF role, but someone with a dose more upside, equal certainty, and one option remaining. I would take that, and role the dice on Jeter staying mostly healthy this year.

        I would think Cervelli holds similar appeal, though to a lesser extent. There are a few teams out there for which Cervelli could start, and while he’s cheap, the Yankees should look to cash in on that. Once he reaches arbitration, all teams will look at Cervelli differently.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          “I wouldn’t want Nunez’s equivalent in an OF role, but someone with a dose more upside, equal certainty, and one option remaining.”

          What team that might need a SS that has such a prospect? Who is the prospect? Young players with strong upside and MLB experience aren’t all that common. There might be such a player, but I don’t know that those players are as common as you seem to suggest.

          As I say below, I disagree with you that one year closer to arbitration is going to lower Nunez’s value more than a full season above replacement would increase it.

          I also disagree with the way you present looking for a trade. You seem to be looking to dump Nunez because you perceive him to have no value to the Yankees. In fact, he does have value to the Yankees and I think they should be looking for better value to trade him.

          • MattG says:

            “What team that might need a SS that has such a prospect?”

            I don’t know, that is not the point here, and I didn’t say anything about major league experience.

            I don’t like getting into conversations with you, because you very often put words into my mouth. Major league experience? I didn’t write that, I wasn’t thinking that, and it’s not part of my comment. What I did write was “prospect that profiles as a major league starter.”

            I know I shouldn’t do this, but I am succumbing to the bait…

            “[I don't agree] one year closer to arbitration is going to lower Nunez’s value more than a full season above replacement would increase it”

            You missed assumption two. If another team already views him as a starter, he does not need to perform above replacement level for a year to raise his trade value. Assumption two states that if another team already views him as a starter, he will need to perform at what I consider to be his optimistic best in order to maintain his current value.

            I am not suggesting the Yankees dump Nunez. There are three assumptions here that maybe wildly inaccurate, but if in fact each of these assumptions are true, I am suggesting they exchange him for an organizational need. There are instances when that makes sense, and this is one such instance.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              “I don’t know, that is not the point here, and I didn’t say anything about major league experience.”

              The point here is absolutely what you quoted. 100%. You are talking about a team that wants a SS and has a RF to give.

              You said someone with as much probability as Nunez. Nunez has produced for stretches at the MLB level. You can’t find that probability in a MiLB player.

              “You missed assumption two. If another team already views him as a starter, he does not need to perform above replacement level for a year to raise his trade value.”

              I didn’t miss it, and you didn’t do a particularly good job of describing what you were talking about with the assumptions.

              No team is going to view him more as a starter now than after a successful MLB season. The point is about whether they can get better value for him now or in a year. You say it HAS to be now. I am saying, no it could also be next year if he throws the ball to first base accurately and hits better.

              “There are three assumptions here that maybe wildly inaccurate, but if in fact each of these assumptions are true, I am suggesting they exchange him for an organizational need.”

              You specifically said above that’s not what we’re talking about… ““What team that might need a SS that has such a prospect?”
              I don’t know, that is not the point here”

              I specifically asked you who you would suggest trading him for and you copped and attitude and made a personal attack. Pathetic.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                You aren’t actually commenting on my comments. You are making points and then when I tell you why I disagree you are personally attacking me and just saying “that’s not what I said… that’s not what we’re talking about.” Just address the damn issues and quite whining.

                • MattG says:

                  There was no personal attack here at all. Stating the fact that you will inaccurately quote my comments is not a personal attack. A personal attack would be to call you a pompous ass.

                  That is an example of course, not a personal attack.

                  I will never read another response written by you, and I am sure I will be the much happier and wiser for it.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I certainly don’t think that they “need” Nunez and would be fine with a trade, but I also don’t think not having a starting spot means he “has no future on the team.” He has a present and a future as a utilityman. He got 338 PAs last season, and I believe the Yankees have stated that they’d like to use him more in 2012 (which could of course be posturing). There’s a definite value not only in those fill-in PAs, but also in having an in-house injury replacement.

      “and his value can only diminish as he nears arbitration.”

      I disagree. It may or may not happen, but I certainly think he can significantly raise his value through fewer errors and/or better hitting even as he starts to get more expensive. Right now he’s still mostly potential, coming off a year where fangraphs has him below replacement. If he produces more I certainly think his value can rise.

  16. nsalem says:

    I don’t think Nunez is getting a fair shake from Yankee fans and RAB writers.. His throwing was awful when he first came up but (subjectively) I believe he improved and made less throwing errors as the season wore on. He made 2 major mental errors in not covering 3rd base on sacrifice bunts and I think on both occasions they were major factors in Yankee loses. Those errors stuck in peoples memories. However I think he deserves a pass on these miscues considering that he only had made 17 appearances as a third baseman in 6 years of minor league ball. During the season his inexperience as a third baseman was rarely part of the conversation. I think given the opportunity he will improve and if he learns to play the outfield he can become a very valuable utility man on a winning team. Great teams need players like Nunez, his versatility does wonders to expanding the flexibility of our roster. I hope he stays. Mike has never cared for Nunez to much and I respectfully disagree on his assessment.

  17. Monteroisdinero says:

    Keep him. Whatever he isn’t good at he will get better at-especially with more playing time.

    He is a 3 tool player (with some power) as a backup infielder with 2 geriatric guys in front of him and is making 500K x 2 years.

    End of story.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      So Eduardo Nunez is untouchable, end of story?

      • nsalem says:

        I wouldn’t say he was untouchable, but i believe he has more of an upside than others do. Versatile players maybe more important to the Yankees than other teams, because it appears that we will have a need for 3 catchers on the team until Montero’s future comes into focus. A major key to the 8 Yankee pennants in the 50′s was Gil Mcdougald who played 2nd, SS and 3rd. http://www.baseball-reference......gi01.shtml He never had a position but always had a position. While Nunez will probably never achieve the success that Gil did, he maybe able to present the Yankees with a similar skill set in an inexpensive manner for the foreseeable future.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I think Nunez has a lot of value to the Yankees, I just also think it’s possible that he has more value to one of 29 other teams… in which case a trade might make sense. I don’t think they should rush to trade him (as I think I make pretty clear in some comments in this thread), just that they should certainly be open to it.

        • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

          Love that Yogism of McDougald “never had a position but always had a position”. As a youngster, I saw McDougald play and he played well at all three positions you mentioned plus he was a good clutch hitter. Casey would have him all over the place but he always played.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Only Montero and our untradeable contract$ are untouchable Ted.

        For what he i$ and could be, Nunez is a keeper.

        Never used the word untouchable.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          “Keep him… End of story.”

          Pretty much reads like untouchable. I agree that he’s a “keeper” in a sense, but I also think a team looking at him as a starting SS could easily exceed the value the Yankees place on him. Not that it will happen, but it could.

    • mike says:

      the article hits on the replacement cost of a Nunez-type on the FA market, but doesn’t discuss what the Yanks could get in return for him in a trade. This isn’t a criticism, but its an essential element of the debate

      Additionally, FA signings of aeging, failed former everyday infielders is not the only route for replacing Nunez – the Yanks have a ton of AAAA pitchers ( Warren, Phelps to name a few) who likely will not make an impact on the Yanks, but who (hypothetically) could be traded for a back-up type IF.

  18. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    Baeing only 24 we can expect a lot of improvement both with the glove and the bat as well as his throwing. I don’t want to compare him to Bautista in any sense but Bautista bounced around for 6-7 years before he found himself and Nunnie has already shown that he can handle major league pitching. I would only trade him for a very good starting pitcher if the occasion arises but I would rather keep him.

  19. Bronx Byte says:

    Let’s start with this past season of Eduardo Nunez. When Jeter was out early in the season, Nunez filled in well enough where the Yankees didn’t go into a tailspin. The same with all the time that A-Rod was out and Chavez was on the DL.
    Everybody knows his footwork and throwing needs improvement but it’s all correctable with hard work.
    Many have said that in a 40 yard dash with Gardner, the speed of Nunez would win out. He doesn’t have the weak bat of Ramiro Pena and the Yankee farm system has no utility INF ready to step up.
    A deal would have to tilt heavily in favor of the Yankees before Cashman would give Nunez up.

  20. AJavierkei Pavagawnett says:

    Agree with this post. That said, it’s something we all know. Nunez is a nice backup to Jeter and ARod, two guys who have a high probability of missing many games the next two years.

    He’s cheap as hell, so hold onto him unless he’s a major piece in trade for a front line starter.

    Nothing else to say.

  21. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    Nunez should be given more playing time at 3rd, SS and 2nd base. Jeter and Arod should work 5 days a week on the field. Maybe extent it to a sixth day as DH. Nunex needs about 4 games a week this will keep him sharp along with Arod and Jeter. We have to face the fact that Jeter will be 38 and Arod though 3 years younger has been breaking down. They both need rest. Moving Nunez for anything less than a number 2 pitcher in a package is wrong IMHO. Cano needs some rest so Nunez should get plenty of AB’s and fielding opportunities to sharpen his glove and throwing. The fact that he cost about 500k as opposed to a ballpark 3.5 million is the reason he has value. Such a great point when you may have to sign a #2 pitcher for a bit above scale to get him to NY. We know the drill.

    With the aging team and Martin athleticism which run him into injuries. There should be plenty of opportunities for Montero as well. Girardi can get the playing time for Nunez and Montero giving rest to the key players Arod, Jeter and Martin. It will be tougher to get these guys to sit down.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Correction, A-Rod is only 1 year younger than Jeter and will turn 37 during the season. I generally agree with your premiss that Nunez be given more time to allow Arod and Jeter regular rest.

  22. David, Jr. says:

    An excellent article and excellent reactions to it.

    My take is that Nunez is a definite fit for the Yankees. ARod has health issues, and it could very well benefit Jeter and Cano not to be such “Iron Men”. Nunez can play multiple positions, and his athleticism brings something to the team when he does play. His salary is very small, and he looks like he could improve.

    That same athletic ability could cause a team to overvalue him, through the lens of projection. I could see a team saying to themselves that he could be a .280 hitter, that he could improve his on base percentage, which would bring his speed more into play, and that he could clean up his fielding, particularly if only used at one position. If that is the case, along with the small salary and along with weakness at the shortstop position, maybe you have a very valuable trade chip.

  23. CJ says:

    Is Eduardo Nunez a $4 million player at league minimum? Is he better than Clint Barmes and if so what should a team be willing to trade for him? He is a utility player for the yanks but if a team like the Braves uses him as a starter, he has good value.

  24. Plank says:

    This is similar to a few offseasons ago when people wanted to either start Joba or trade him. If other teams see him as a SS (an inherently more valuable position) the Yankees should trade him to get that value.

    I think it’s pretty clear at this point, it would have been better to trade Joba back then, even if he was a bangup setup man.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Nunez is not Joba… there’s a comparison to be made, but there are a lot of ways Nunez’s career could turn out and a lot of ways a trade could turn out. Citing one example doesn’t prove a rule.

      • Plank says:

        there’s a comparison to be made

        So you’re agreeing with me.

        but there are a lot of ways Nunez’s career could turn out and a lot of ways a trade could turn out.

        My words:
        “it would have been better to trade Joba back then, even if he was a bangup setup man.”

        Seems pretty similar.

        Citing one example doesn’t prove a rule.

        Then you’re saying I’m wrong based on something you made up. Who claimed one example proves a rule? What rule?

        Huh, where have I seen this before?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          “but there are a lot of ways Nunez’s career could turn out and a lot of ways a trade could turn out.
          My words:
          “it would have been better to trade Joba back then, even if he was a bangup setup man.”
          Seems pretty similar”

          What are you talking about? How are those similar statements at all?

          “Then you’re saying I’m wrong based on something you made up. Who claimed one example proves a rule? What rule?”

          Do you drink heavily or use drugs? I specifically said that one example does not prove a rule. And that is not something that I made up.

  25. CJ says:

    Nunez and mason Williams for Brandon beachy? Nunez for venters?

  26. Mel Hall's Hair says:

    Can we stop? We are not getting a legitimate major league starter for Eduardo Nunez. Not happening.

  27. YanksFan says:

    Great analysis. Fair anaylis, also. Much better than some of the complaining that went on 2 years when his exclusion killed the Lee trade. We saw last year and w/ the Braves interest that Nunez has great value. That it would be a mistake to give up that value as a throw in for a Lee-Montero trade.

    • CS Yankee says:

      Hindsight is 20/20, however if he was the reason the Lee deal fell apart, most would have made that trade if only a couple of the following things occured…
      1) It netted Lee
      2) It led to a WS berth, thus meaning another 40M$ in revenue.
      3) Lee re-signed as a Yankee
      4) It produced #28.

      Not complaining, but even if Lee walked & they end up losing to SF in the WS the badded revenue would be tough to overlook by itself, however if it netted #28 it would have been worth it even if he ended back in Philly.

      The bottom line (for me) is that unless he could net a #2 SP, we should keep him and if it took Nunez along with any other two in the system (less Jesus and two-B’s) for that elusive #2…don’t do it; they have 5-7 AAAA pitchers, plenty of RP-ing & little MIF/OF depth.

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