After Thursday’s game, the Twins announced that utility infielder Eduardo Nunez was traded to the San Francisco Giants for lefthanded reliever Adalberto Mejia. In a corresponding move, Jorge Polanco was recalled from Triple-A Rochester.
Nunez has had a breakout season this year, hitting .296/.325/.439 with a career-high 12 home runs and 26 stolen bases, also a career high. Despite eclipsing his previous high in home runs by seven, Nunez’s isolated power was still a below-average .144 thanks to fewer doubles relative to his at-bats, but his speed will play in the enormous AT&T Park.
With incumbent third baseman Matt Duffy still on the disabled list, Nunez likely slots in there with Conor Gillaspie in the short-term, but will likely slot in as a bench player upon Duffy’s return as Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik already have shortstop and second base covered, respectively. However, Panik has spent plenty of time on the disabled list himself so Nunez is likely an insurance policy in case Panik needs to miss any more time.
Coming back to the Twins is lefthanded starting pitcher Adalberto Mejia who has spent time at both Double-A and Triple-A this year and is ranked by Baseball America as the 91st best prospect. In 11 starts at Double-A, the 23-year old Mejia excelled by allowing just a 1.94 ERA and .203 batting average while striking out 23% of his batters faced while walking just over 6%. He wasn’t quite as good in seven Triple-A starts as he had a 4.20 ERA, but his strikeout rate improved and his walk rate got just slightly worse. The main issue was an increase in hits and home runs allowed, but he appears at worst to be a solid lefthanded option out of the bullpen and at best a mid-rotation starting pitcher. He features a low-90s fastball, mid-80s slider and low-80s change-up and his slider projects to be an above-average pitch according to Baseball Prospectus.
At first glance, I’m satisfied with this trade. Trying to tout Nunez as a starting-caliber shortstop was foolish but as a backup infielder, I think this is certainly receiving fair value in return. Plus, for once we’re witnessing a trade where a player is sent out when his trade value is maximized, something we haven’t been accustomed to here in Minnesota. Now it’s time to see what else occurs before the July 31st trade deadline.