Author Topic: The Nunez Dilemma - Should he stay or should he go?  (Read 1394 times)

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Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Robles might be useful, but why allow Nunez to take a spot?
Lot of Nunez discussion. Recall when the roster was capped at 25 men, many AL teams in the DH league kept 8 man bullpens and a slim bench with only 3 players, one of whom was the back up catcher. In effect, the Nats are playing that way, treating the 4th bench slot as a luxury that can be held down by a guy who has some skills but is almost never used. Whether that optimizes the slot, you can argue.

Nunez has MLB plus skills defensively already, as well as super speed. Those skills could be used as a weapon more, but with Garcia playing what visually feels like average defense, and with CJ being the team star, you just aren't seeing the defensive substitution opportunities you thought you'd see at the start of the year. In the first 2 weeks of the season, Nunez made 4 of his 5 defensive appearances, being inserted as a pinch runner twice. Since then, he's been in the field once, and pinch run twice. With Vargas as the primary utility guy, Nunez is now solely a pinch runner, maybe mostly used in extra innings as a Manfred Man. FWIW, Drew Millas is pretty fast, not just fast for a catcher, so could function as a Manfred Man. With Robles now on the roster, the need for a dedicated PR is less.

I'm not going to say that Nunez is a non-prospect. He has MLB useful skills. Keeping him on the bench probably hurts his development. It's probably time for Rizzo to figure out whether it's better to keep him by chilling him on the  bench in the majors and going with in effect a 25 man roster or, if he really likes the kid but wants to use the roster slot, making the Marlins some sort of offer for him. I don't think he'll be grabbed if he's waived (as a step before dealing with the Marlins for his rights), but frankly, the longer we delay the process, the more likely a good contender might say, "let's grab him for the stretch as a defensive replacement and pinch runner." Just think of all the contenders that rostered Quinton Berry for stretch drives.

Online Slateman

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Online welch

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I've thought around the Nats infield. Lipscomb and Senzel can play 3B. CJ is the starting SS, and Vargas can play SS, as well as 3B. Garcia plays 2B and Vargas can shift to 2B if necessary. That is coverage all around.

Nunez is the third-string SS. He hit .250 once in AA, in 2022, and then fell to .225 in AA last season. Miami exposed him for good reason. As JCA says, Nunez is useful as a pinch-runner, and I can't think of much more that he can do. The rest of MLB uses a 26-man roster, but the Nats have 25.

Offer the Marlins a substitute infielder from Fredericksburg or, my favorite trade, offer them Joey Gallo and pay some of Gallo's salary.

With the extra spot, promote Darren Baker, who hits (.325 with .775 OPS), fields 2B and LF, and runs (13 SB and 1 CS). Baker offers a something; Nunez offers a big nothing.

Why not promote Millas? He would be the number 3 catcher, a part of a part-time player. He starts in Rochester. Maybe Millas could be part of a large pool of C, 1B, and DH, but until the Nats go that way, and it would be a wandering way, Millas seems better in AAA.

Offline Senatorswin

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If they don’t put him to the test on the field, it does seem to move into the realm of pointlessness. He’d probably figure to get more of a shot with the Marlins

Offline Smithian

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I'd be fine with Nunez in Rochester

He should be gone. The Nats are above .500 at the moment with a wasted roster spot. Bench glove? Vargas. Pinch runner? Robles. Versatile infielder? Lipsomb. Darren Baker and Jake Alu down in Rochester could do the same.

It is real silly to have him on this roster. Promote Millas and let Adams or Ruiz get more ABs when not catching.

Online Slateman

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What I dont understand is why Lipscomb and Nunez are both on the roster. Nunez has the glove and arm to play third. Vargas and Menses can stand on first.

One of them shouldnt be on the big league roster. Lipscomb  can be sent down and probably should be. He doesnt hit well and doesnt seem to field particularly well. But Nunez doesn't need to be here either

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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I really do love the idea of offering to pick up all but a pro-rated MLB minimum on Gallo's contract for the rights to Nunez and assigning him to Rochester. The Marlins and the Nats have kind of swapped positions, with the Nats the marginal contenders for a WC and the Marlins looking to flip assets to strengthen themselves down the line. Gallo fits there better as they can afford to give him time and a chance to build a little value before the trade deadline. For the Nats, the idea of opening 2 position roster slots on the active and 2 more on the 40 man roster would allow them to redeploy in-house talent, such as Blankenhorn as the lefty 1B/DH, Millas to let a catcher DH, give Yepez a try as the righty bat instead of Meneses,  etc... Could even allow them to call up another outfielder for depth, or more of a specialist you may be willing to play more, like Baker.

Thinking ahead, I think the hand gets forced when Gallo is recalled. Maybe they just send down Lipscomb at that time (agree with Slate they wouldn't need both Nunez and Lipscomb at that point), or maybe they drop Meneses, but DFA'ng Nunez, play Gallo for a week, then do the Welch deal would be the better play.

Online Slateman

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Why would the Marlins want Gallo?

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Why would the Marlins want Gallo?
Strictly to flip him at the deadline. Same reasons the Nats wanted him. They have a chance to play him, so if they think he could be moved at the deadline, and they were only playing MLB minimum the rest of the season, why not roll the dice and see if he's an asset? They may prefer Nunez back, but they may want to see if they can turn Gallo into something better.

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Offline IanRubbish

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It is real silly to have him on this roster.

Agree.  Complete waste of a roster spot.  I don't have a problem with being sellers at the deadline, but holding roster spots for a minor leaguer is absurd.

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Agree.  Complete waste of a roster spot.  I don't have a problem with being sellers at the deadline, but holding roster spots for a minor leaguer is absurd.

A minor leaguer who hits ,220 in AA, at that.

Offline tomterp

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In as a pinch runner in a critical moment, this is what we've been saving him for!   

Offline Smithian

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In as a pinch runner in a critical moment, this is what we've been saving him for!   
They immediately subbed him out defensively for Vargas. If he can't play third, then he is still a wasted spot. Even if they knew they wanted Vargas with the bat in his hands the next inning so they just made the switch right away, he is still a wasted roster spot. Robles could have done that pinch run just fine.

He isn't valuable enough for end of the bench, and he won't get better without hitting every day.

We'd be better off with an extra bullpen arm or Millas or maybe Blankenhorn there.

I am curious if Gallo returning is the bell tolling for Nunez or Meneses.

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Meneses seems to be done. He had a stretch recently where he had a few hits, but IIRC he had an awful spring and cumulatively, has been a wasted lineup spot. Gallo should most definitely replace him.

Nunez should go. Bring up Millas to allow Ruiz or Adams to DH on the days that they aren't catching. It's time to see if Millas can succeed at the major league level.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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I'm still kind of mystified at the plan for Nunez. Let's say they keep him the whole year. Going into the rule 5 draft for next year, is this guy going to be worth a roster spot over Kevin Made or other middle infield candidates who have to be added to the 40 man roster or exposed to rule 5?

Made is having a nice offensive year at Wilmington and probably deserves a shot at AA sometime in June. If you told me they will want to have him split reps with Cortland Lawson, that's fine, but Lawson's numbers don't jump off the  page, either. Made is showing some nice plate discipline, with his BB% jumping to 16% this year from the 10-12% the past couple of years, and his K% is 20.6%, right at the level it's been his entire time in the minors. The ISO isn't there, but .287 / .415 / .352 should shows something. his raw speed and ability to steal aren't at Nunez's level, but still figure to be above average, as does his fielding. Are we seriously going to keep a guy who will have been chilled on the bench for a year and never hit over a guy who looks like a guy who could hit enough to be a backup, at least? If we aren't, then what is the use of keeping Nunez active for a year?

Online Slateman

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There is no reason to keep him, at this point. I would have considered it if Garcia had struggled, but at this point, Nunez is taking up space. I would rather see Alu or Kieboom at this point.

Offline IanRubbish

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Online welch

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The Nats have a 4-man bench. One is whichever catcher has not started. Another is Nunez, meaning the Nats play every game with a bench of two. With Robles gone, this better than having one -- like Vargas. 

How long before the Nats dump Nunez, who adds nothing? Replace Nunuez with Baker, who runs, hits, and fields 2B, LF, and has played CF. Could probably play RF, assuming that smart throws count.

Or replace Nunez with Millas, who has done well in Rochester. Think of it: if Nunez went into the Nats minor league system, where would they put him? Looks like he would battle Armando Cruz in Fredericksburg. (Where would Miami put him?)

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Re: Follow the Prospects: Darren Baker, 2B
« Reply #21: May 28, 2024, 11:23:01 PM »

I think the plan for Baker is more that he's a 2d base option if Garcia gets hurt. I think they're letting him play in Rochester every day rather than using him in Nunez's role.

I'm sure sure that Nunez has a role. Charlie Finley tried hired a sprint champion as a pinch-runner, but the guy contributed so little that Finley began using a fast minor-leaguer in later seasons. Until MLB starts using Designated Runners, Nunez is a waste.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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I'm sure sure that Nunez has a role. Charlie Finley tried hired a sprint champion as a pinch-runner, but the guy contributed so little that Finley began using a fast minor-leaguer in later seasons. Until MLB starts using Designated Runners, Nunez is a waste.
I'll stick my neck out and say that he's going to be in the majors in September even if the not with the Nats. He's just a deadly runner and his D is very good. He is not a well rounded player, but he's more or less a specialist. You say "until MLB starts using Designated Runners," but they've done it for ages. Dave Roberts was a legit ballplayer, but his most famous role was strictly as a pinch runner. The names Quintin Berry and Terrence Gore have come up. They always managed to find a spot on 25 man rosters down the stretch as specialists. With a 26 man, it's a lot easier.

Online Slateman

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Yea, his defense and speed make him an obvious postseason roster addition.

Offline IanRubbish

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In as a pinch runner in a critical moment, this is what we've been saving him for!

The argument for him is that he not only steals, he walks a ton.  He had among MiLB's steals leader over the last couple years, and has a .358 career MiLB on base.  The problem is that most of this was at A-levels, last year as a 22/23 year old, he had a reasonable, but not super impressive .341 On base.  Moreover, with zero power, his OPS was still under .700...at AA.  Contrast that to Jacob Young, who's only one year older, but put up an OPS over .800 last year at AA, steals at the same pace, and is way ahead in his ability to major league pitching.  Nunez turns 24 this year, so not much time to develop left, but he's certainly not being served hanging out on the bench so he can be a 25 year old minor leaguer next year.

Darren Baker steals at close to the same rate and has a better OBP in AAA than Nunez had last year in AA.  Baker has a far better chance of being able to hit MLB pitching, even if he's not an all-star or everyday replacement for Luis Garcia, and is far more deserving of that roster spot.   He can be the pinch runner the team wants as well.