SEATTLE – Now that the Red Sox have obtained Eduardo Nunez, what are they going to do with him? And, further, who will be sent out to make room for him on the roster?
Those questions didn’t have any obvious answers Wednesday, hours after the Sox landed Nunez from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for two pitching prospects. Nunez won’t join the Sox until Friday, when the team begins a 10-game homestand.
That gives the Sox some time to figure out how to proceed, but to this point, they haven’t offered any hints.
“He’ll mix in on the left side (of the infield),’’ offered John Farrell. “Certainly, the defensive versatility opens up a number of places we can go with him. But I think before stating the actual usage, it’s important for us to meet face to face.’’
One option, of course, would be to option Rafael Devers back to Pawtucket. But Devers showed to be nimble at third in his major league debut, then added a 400-foot homer for his first career hit Wednesday. He’s done nothing to suggest that he doesn’t belong.
But here’s the problem: if the Sox go with a platoon of Devers and Nunez at third, Nunez will only play against lefties, or about 20 percent of the games. The rest of the time, the Sox would have to spot him around the diamond, filling in at short, the outfield and perhaps DH.
That hardly seems like maximizing someone you just acquired.
And if the Sox were to option Deven Marrero and keep Devers, that leaves Nunez as the primary backup at shortstop. Nunez is suspect at short, putting the Sox at risk defensively at a key position. It will also leave the Sox without their most accomplished defensive infielder (Marrero).
Other options are just as problematic. The Sox could option Devers back to Pawtucket to allow him to continue his development – at least until September, when rosters expand and he could return.
But that would leave no lefty bat for the left side of the infield and take away the potential power that Devers provides. Neither Nunez nor Marrero has a slugging percentage above .420.
Either way, Farrell vowed that Nunez will get plenty of opportunities.
“I think anytime you’ve got that type of (versatile) player,’’ said Farrell, “you can mix and match, you can spell different guys and get them off their feet on a given day. He’s played a high number of games at shortstop. This is a quality bat we’ve got in our uniform now and we’re looking for him to get his feet on the ground with us.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. But where we can get the bat into the lineup on a given day, that versatility certainly comes into play. He’s going to get a high number of at-bats. That’s why we acquired him. He’s swinging the bat really well right now (with) 18 stolen bases. So, like I said, he’s a well-rounded player.’’