The Kansas City Royals are continuing to be brought up in rumors for infielders. The most recent one has been Eduardo Nunez. With Nunez being linked to the Royals, what does that mean for the young players currently on the team?
It is very odd that the Royals continue to be brought up when different infielders are discussed. First, Ryan Goins was brought up as a potential target for the Royals. Now according to MLB Trade Rumors, the Royals are mentioned in potentially being interested in super-utility player, Eduardo Nunez.
The 30-year-old veteran looks a lot like a former super-utility player the Royals had in 2015, Ben Zobrist. With Nunez being able to play second base, third base, shortstop, and outfield it is easy to see why the Royals would be interested in him.
The Offensive Numbers:
When looking at Nunez, he seems to be another player that is being hurt by the slow free agent market. In fact, it is kind of surprising that more teams are not bidding on him and he has not signed yet.
Over his eight-year career, Nunez has a .282/.320/.415 slash. When looking at his last two season, he has hit an impressive .299 while playing on four different teams due to trades. The last two years he has played 114+ games, after not playing 100 games since 2011. When taking into consideration playing time that last two years, his offensive numbers are quite impressive.
Nunez has just 46 homeruns (an average of almost 6 per season) over his career. However, the last two years he has hit double-digit homeruns. Hitting 28 the last two years seems to show that his power has increased with more playing time. Continuing with the impressive numbers, over the last two years Nunez has 57 doubles. Where he lacks in homerun power, he has made up for with extra base hit power.
A number that really pops out is a skill that the Royals used to love. Over the last two years, Nunez has 64 stolen bases. His big year coming in 2016 when he stole 40 bases. Considering the Royals helped bring back the “small-ball” era in 2014 and 2015, having someone who can steal 25+ bags a year would benefit the team tremendously.
The Defensive Numbers:
That leads us to the other side of the spectrum. For a player that has offensive numbers like Nunez does, why has he not been signed yet? Well, his defensive numbers might be a reason why.
Over his career, he has played every position on the field except first base, catcher, and center field. Of all positions he has played, his primary positions being third base and shortstop. However, just because he can play those positions does not mean he plays them at a seemingly high level.
While playing shortstop he has a less than impressive fielding percentage. While playing 270 games at shortstop he has a lackluster .956 fld%. To put that in perspective for you, Alcides Escobar has a .976 fld%. Nunez has committed 40 error over his 270 games while Escobar has committed 131 over 1,282 games. That means that Nunez committed an error in nearly 15% of games he played at shortstop, while Escobar committed an error in just 10% of games. Keep in mind, Escobar has played in 162 games a year in three of the last four year, and at least 150 games six of the last seven years.
His defensive numbers at third base are actually worse too. Nunez has a .943 fld% over 248 games while committing 30 errors. Again, for perspective, Mike Moustakas has a .960 fld% over 809 games while committing 87 errors. Cheslor Cuthbert has a .950 fld% over 188 games while committing 22 errors. Nunez committed an error in 12% of games while Moustakas committed an error in 11% of games and Cuthbert committed an error in 12% of games.
Offensively, Nunez seems like a player any team would want to have. He is beginning to find consistency and his ability to steal bases is very attractive. Defensively, minus the fact that he can play a lot of positions, he seems to be a step down for the Royals.
According to MLB Trade Rumors back in November, before the market was known to be this slow, Nunez was projected to get a two-year, $14 million deal. This type of deal could benefit the Royals because it would be an enticing contract for a team in contention during the trade deadline, just like the last two years have been for Nunez.
If the Royals sign Nunez it would mean one thing. The Royals are unsure if Raul Mondesi Jr, Ramon Torres or Cuthbert will be ready to play consistently next year. Nunez would essentially be insurance.
So what do you think Royals fans? Would you be okay if the Royals signed Eduardo Nunez? Would you rather fill positions with in-house options? Let us know!