In a somewhat surprising move, the Yankees sent infielder Eduardo Nunez back down to the minor leagues on Friday in a move designed to get the struggling defender consistent playing time at his natural position – shortstop.
“It gets him back to playing every day,” Girardi told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “When I look at Nuney’s future, I don’t see Nuney as a utility guy. I see him as an everyday player, so we made this move.
“It’s tough, because he’s a great kid with a great work ethic that’s willing to do anything for you — that provides a lot of excitement. But for his development, we thought it was more important to get him playing every day at short again.”
Nunez has the tools to be a good defender, he’s got excellent range and a good arm. It’s hard seeing him being this bad throughout his career. But right now he’s not playing everyday and he’s constantly moving around the field, playing up to five different positions.
Now whether or not this will actually help Nunez is hard to say. A lot of it depends on how long he stays down in the minors and how motivated he is down there. He’s offensively able to hit at the Major League level so it could be hard for the Yankees to resist calling him up if he’s hitting .350 a month from now. For the good of the team though, he probably should spend almost the rest of the season down there.
The interesting thing about this is how it affects Nunez’s trade value. The Yankees see him as a starting shortstop one day, but have Derek Jeter for at least the next two and probably even next three seasons. They might be doing this as a way to build up his value as a shortstop to other teams so they can dangle him at the deadline.
The Yankees haven’t revealed their ultimate plans with him, we’re going to have to wait and see on that. Right now though, this is the best thing for him and the organization long-term.