The Red Sox announced Monday that they’ve designated infielder Eduardo Nunez for assignment and optioned right-hander Hector Velazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket. In a pair of corresponding moves, right-hander Ryan Weber and first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis were called up from Triple-A.
Now 32 years of age, Nunez proved to be an excellent pickup for Boston when the Sox acquired him from the Giants prior to the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline. He gave the lineup a strong jolt that season, hitting .321/.353/.539 through 173 plate appearances down the stretch before his season came to a close with an ALDS knee injury that saw him helped off the field. Nunez re-signed with the Sox for a two-year guarantee, the second season of which was a player option, and simply has not been the same player.
In 676 plate appearances for the Sox over the past two seasons, Nunez has scuffled to a dismal .255/.277/.366 batting line with a dozen homers and steals apiece. His struggles and Dustin Pedroia’s career-altering knee injury prompted the Red Sox to also trade for Ian Kinsler last summer in a move that now looks quite lopsided. Boston won last year’s World Series, so the end result of all their moves was as good as can be hoped, of course; but Kinsler didn’t hit much with Boston, and the Sox would surely like to have righty Ty Buttrey in their bullpen this season following his breakout with the Halos.
The Red Sox will have a week to trade Nunez, pass him through outright waivers or release him. He has enough service time to reject an outright assignment and retain his salary even in the event that he clears waivers, so this seems likely to spell the end of his time with the organization. Nunez is still owed about $2.07MM of this season’s $5MM salary, making it a near certainty that he won’t be claimed. In all likelihood, he’ll soon become a free agent and be granted the ability to explore opportunities with other clubs.