The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Adalberto Mejia, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune first reported.
Nunez, 29, has spent the last three seasons with the Twins, gradually improving each season. In 90 games with the Twins this year, Nunez slashed .300/.326/.400 with 12 home runs, a league-leading 26 stolen bases, and 47 runs batted in. These totals — which all would represent career highs — earned the versatile infielder his first All-Star game nod.
“It’s tough,” Nunez told reporters, including Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, about being traded. “The Minnesota Twins are a great organization. They have great people. They made me feel like I was at home.”
— Trevor Plouffe (@TPlouffe24) July 29, 2016
Acquiring Nunez gives the Giants — the current first place team in National League West — a versatile option for their squad. As noted by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Nunez has played 249 games at shortstop, 147 at third base, 28 at second base, and 23 in left field. He last played the outfield in 2015, making three appearances in left field.
Originally a New York Yankees farmhand viewed as a potential replacement for Derek Jeter, Nunez’ stint in the Bronx soured. Despite numerous opportunities, his bat was inconsistent and his defense — which is still not considered an asset — hurt his standing in the organization.
With his career revived in the Twin Cities, Nunez’ value skyrocketed. Twins interim general manager Rob Antony told Bollinger that six teams expressed interest in the Dominican Republic native. Nunez also comes with an additional year of team control as he is arbitration-eligible this offseason — which will likely result in an increase of his $1.48 million salary this season.
“It was difficult but our perspective from the start of this process was to try to acquire starting pitching,” Anthony said about trading Nunez.
Starting pitching is exactly what the Twins obtained.
The 23-year-old Mejia was ranked as the Giants’ No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline and viewed as a Top 100 prospect (91st overall) by Baseball America. After pitching to a 3-2 record with a sparkling 1.94 ERA in 11 starts at Double-A, Mejia was promoted to Triple-A where he continued to show promise. In seven starts at Triple-A, Mejia owns a 4-1 record with a 4.20 ERA in 40-and-two-thirds innings.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) July 29, 2016
“We knew, as we got into this deadline, we were going to be asked for some heavy costs,” Giants GM Bobby Evans said of parting with Mejia. “And it wasn’t a surprise that he was asked about quite a bit.”
In 2014, Mejia, then-21-years-old, was suspended for 50 games due to a positive test for the banned substance Sibutramine. As SB Nation wrote, that substance, which is sold under several brand names including Reductil, Meridia, Siredia, and Sibutrex, is a stimulant that was once used to treat obesity.
The 6-foot-3 left-hander is poised to join the major league rotation at some point in the near future.
As for the Twins, they will call up top prospect Jorge Polanco, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. The 23-year-old recorded 16 at-bats from 2014-15 for the Twins. Earlier this season, he played in 13 games, contributing one homer and four RBIs. After being pegged as a potential Top 100 prospect, including a 99th overall ranking by Baseball America, Polanco will have the opportunity to play the middle infield regularly with Nunez’ departure.
Polanco played in 74 games at Triple-A this season, posting a .271/.331/.455 batting line with nine long balls and 37 RBIs.
[Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]