The Detroit Tigers hope to fill their void at first base or perhaps third by signing Renato Nunez to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to the organization’s big-league spring training camp.
Nunez is a thick 6-foot-1, 220-pound power-hitting infielder that has spent time at both third and first base during his MLB career. Nunez’s addition doesn’t only help fill a vacancy in the Detroit Tigers lineup; he’s yet another interchangeable piece general manager (GM) Al Avila is providing manager A.J. Hinch with for the 2021 season.
The Detroit Tigers may be the most versatile team in baseball when this is all said and done. It’s been a trend Avila has quickly embraced. At one time, it was Don Kelly and Andrew Romine on Jim Leyland’s bench that could find themselves elevated to start in any number of positions on the diamond or the outfield on any given day.
Now nearly the entire Tigers’ roster can play multiple positions. Detroit wisely brought back second baseman Jonathan Schoop who seemed like a lock to be the everyday second sacker. Nearly immediately after being retained, Schoop mentioned he’s excited to prove to the league that he can play multiple positions, including shortstop.
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Renato Nunez will provide the Detroit Tigers with a much-needed power surge.
Nunez fits the mold of an interchangeable piece. I expect the slugging power hitter to play primarily at first base and perhaps spend some time as a designated hitter when Miguel Cabrera draws the odd start in the field at first.
With the uncertainty surrounding whether or not Jeimer Candelario will slide back across the diamond to play third base where his tremendous glove can be emphasized or remain at first where his bat exploded, Nunez can play where Candelario is not.
Two years ago, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, Nunez belted 31 home runs along with driving in 90 runs. During that 2019 breakout season, Nunez stashes a respectable .244/.311/.460 line.
Back in 2018, Nunez hit .275 in 60 contests hitting seven homers and 20 RBI’s. During last year’s COVID-19 shortened season, the 26-year old right-handed-hitting utility infielder recorded 12 home runs and 31 RBI’s in 52 games while maintaining an honest.256 batting average.
Nunez had been designated for assignment back in November by Baltimore, now leaving for an opportunity for the Detroit Tigers to potentially land themselves yet another diamond in the rough. The first name that comes to mind is J.D. Martinez after the Houston Astros gave up on the future All-Star outfielder. Let’s hope for a similar fate.
Here is a bonus. Detroit will have contract control until 2024 if they so choose, which if Nunez can live up to his 30 home run potential, or maybe 25 playing in a robust Comerica Park will be a bargain for Detroit in the years to come.