Eduardo Nunez can’t play defense at the Major League level. He has a lot of speed, range, and athleticism so the Yankees showed a lot of patience with him and considering there is no replacement for an aging Derek Jeter on the horizon it’s hard to blame them.
With a demotion to the minors and an injury to Brett Gardner it seemed like the Yankees were poised to give Nunez a chance to try his athleticism in the outfield. Unfortunately for him a thumb injury as him on the DL just four games after his demotion and now it sounds like the Yankees are shutting down any idea that he would be a regular outfielder.
“I think he is a shortstop,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman of the NY Post. “He can play the outfield, but he does not profile as an outfield guy. He is a free swinger and his defense would not be a plus. Put his OPS in left field and I think it would rank near the bottom.”
Cashman has a good point. Nunez wouldn’t have much of a chance to catch on as an everyday outfielder unless his defense out there became superb. Just imagine if he replaced Nick Swisher next season – that would be an outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nunez. It would certainly be a speedy one, but Granderson would account for probably 90 percent of the home run power.
If the Yankees are going to maximize their value out of Nunez they have to stick with him as a shortstop where his bat will really play well. He’s not capable of Major League defense at this time though so they may have to be prepared to be without him for an entire full season next year while he works on his craft.