By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox traded for Eduardo Nunez late Tuesday night, adding a versatile player to the mix for the final two months of the season.
So how will the Red Sox use the third baseman, who can also play shortstop and the outfield? And what does the acquisition mean for prospect Rafael Devers, who just made his MLB debut on Tuesday night?
Right now, not even the Red Sox know the answers to those questions. But Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski told reporters shortly after the swap with the San Francisco Giants was announced that Nunez will see plenty of playing time in Boston.
“I think he’ll play a lot for us; since June 1 he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball,” Dombrowski told reporters in Seattle. “We’ll have to sit down and figure out exactly how he’s going to be used, but with the versatility he has, he can play a lot of spots.”
The 30-year-old righty is certainly swinging a hot bat, hitting .358 with a .896 OPS, 10 doubles, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored in 26 games since the start of June. The offensively challenged Red Sox need any kind of boost they can get, and Nunez could provide a spark when he joins the team on Friday when they return to Boston for a 10-game homestand.
But the one thing he lacks is what the Red Sox as a whole have struggled with for much of the season, and that’s power. Nunez has just four homers and he’s driven in only 37 runs on the year.
When asked about his team’s lack of power as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, Dombrowski made it sound like he’s counting on his current players to step up in that department.
“Some of the times, guys have to do it themselves from within. That’s what it really comes down to,” said Dombrowski.
The fact that Dombrowski expects Nunez to play a lot likely means the 20-year-old Devers will take a backseat and platoon with the eight-year veteran, which is not a bad thing for a 20-year-old getting his first taste of the bigs. The 30-year-old Nunez gives Boston a nice backup plan if Devers’ production doesn’t continue against Major League pitching.
There are a lot of different things that Nunez can do for the Red Sox, whether it’s in the field or at the plate. He can play some shortstop and allow Xander Bogaerts to rest his ailing hand and work his way out of a lengthy slump, though Dombrowski hinted that Deven Marrero (who has done an admirable job as a fill-in third baseman this season) could assume that role. Nunez can also do some damage on the base baths as a late-game pinch runner, swiping 18 bases in 23 attempts this season for the Giants.
But he doesn’t address their biggest need at the moment, and if the Red Sox’ offensive woes continues, Dombrowski may have no other choice but to address their lack of power with another trade.