The Giants announced to various reporters, including Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle, that they have claimed left-hander Darien Nunez off waivers from the Dodgers. (Reporter Francys Romero relayed the Giants-Nunez connection earlier today.) The Giants don’t need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move at the moment, as a couple of players have recently hit the Covid-related injured list and won’t take up roster spots until reinstated.
It was reported a few days ago that the 29-year-old would require Tommy John surgery, thus keeping him out of action for the remainder of this season and at least part of next year as well. The next day, he was designated for assignment by the Dodgers in order to open up a roster spot for Reyes Moronta. Nunez was in the minors at the time of his injury, meaning that the Dodgers could have merely placed him on the minor league injured list. However, in that scenario, he would continue to occupy a spot on the 40-man roster. They also had the option of placing Nunez on the major league 60-day injured list. Doing so would have opened up a roster spot, but also would have meant Nunez would earn an MLB salary and service time over the remainder of the year. In the end, they opted merely to cut him loose. Injured players cannot be placed on outright waivers, meaning Nunez was on release waivers, before being claimed.
For the Giants, this is situation has many parallels with their acquisition of outfielder Luis Gonzalez. Last year, Gonzalez was injured while in the minor leagues with the White Sox. The Sox opted to designate him for assignment and place him on waivers. The Giants put in a claim and placed him on their major league injured list, thus earning him MLB pay and service time. The club non-tendered him after the season but were able to re-sign him on a minor league deal, with Gonzalez presumably appreciating the treatment he received from the team. He recently had his contract selected and has been playing well in his first few games as a Giant.
With Nunez, the Giants announced that he has been optioned to Triple-A for now. However, it seems likely that, whenever they need to open up a spot on the 40-man roster, they will move Nunez to the 60-day IL. He currently has 30 days of MLB service time, a number that will start climb once he’s on the 60-day IL.
An amateur signing out of Cuba in 2018, Nunez worked his way up the ranks and made his MLB debut last year, throwing 7 2/3 innings with an 8.22 ERA. In Triple-A, however, his ERA was a much nicer 2.42 over 52 innings, along with a 39.8% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate. The Giants will surely be hoping that he can get back to that kind of production once he recovers from the surgery, and then carry it from the minors into the majors.