Twins Insider: Trade for SS Nunez is a sign of short patience with Florimon

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2014 - 12:18 PM

While Pedro Florimon is capable of filling up a highlight reel with his fine glove work, this deal is an indictment of his hitting.


Eduardo Nunez of the New York Yankees scores a ron for the Yankees against the Twins during the 2012 season.

Photo: Jim Mcisaac, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Teams usually are comfortable with waiting a few weeks into the regular season before making substantial roster moves, but the Twins appear to be on the verge of bringing in a new shortstop.

So don’t look at the Twins’ deal on Monday for Eduardo Nunez as an innocuous one. They have every intention of summoning him to the majors as soon as he gets his timing down at Class AAA Rochester. The Twins acquired Nunez, 26, from the Yankees on Monday in exchange for lefthander Miguel Sulbaran, who was in the Class A Cedar Rapids starting rotation. Nunez is a player the Twins have asked the Yankees about in the past, and they finally got him.

Asked about Nunez on Monday following the Twins’ 8-3 loss to Oakland, manager Ron Gardenhire said, “We plan on him being a part of it.’’

While Pedro Florimon is capable of filling up a highlight reel with his fine glove work, this deal is an indictment of his hitting. Florimon batted .221 last season in 127 games. He was slowed by appendicitis at the beginning of camp and was limited to 10 spring training games, in which he batted .185. Still, the Twins brought him north to start the regular season, and Florimon is 2-for-20 with two walks and seven strikeouts in 10 games.

Florimon has plenty of speed, but you never would know it because he doesn’t get on base enough to put it in play consistently. And his high strikeout rate has been a concern. If Florimon could hit .240, he would steal 20-25 bases and this move would not have been made.

“Florimon has done everything we’ve asked of him,’’ Gardenhire said. “Offensively, he’s got to bang the ball around.’’

It’s not as if Nunez is a hitting star, but he once was considered to be the heir apparent to Derek Jeter. Nunez is a career .267 hitter with a .307 on-base percentage and .372 slugging percentage. His career WAR (wins above replacement, which determines a player’s overall value) is minus-1.8 compared with 2.6 for Florimon. Nunez has a career range factor at short of 3.66, compared with Florimon’s 5.12.

But the Twins are convinced that what Nunez can do with the bat is worth what they might lose in defense. That can be a risky stance but, despite coming off a road trip in which they scored 38 runs in six games, the Twins know they need functional hitters up and down the lineup. And Florimon has been a speed bump.

“We like the way he swings the bat,’’ Gardenhire said of Nunez. “He can run. He can play shortstop.’’

It’s surprising to see the Twins positioning themselves to make a change one week into the regular season. They waited until May 22 to take Vance Worley out of last year’s starting rotation. This suggests they were looking around for shortstops late in camp. And it’s also surprising they didn’t choose some other options. They could give Eduardo Escobar a chance to claim the position. They could summon Danny Santana from Class AAA Rochester, but bypassing him is understandable for now because he needs to smooth out some defensive rough edges. If anything, Nunez could be a temporary fix until they feel Santana is ready.

“He was mostly a platoon guy when he came up, and it’s tough sometimes when you’re a good prospect, everyone talks about you, and then you come up and play once or twice a week, when Derek Jeter isn’t playing,’’ said Twins righthander Phil Hughes, who played with Nunez with the Yankees. “He would have a problem sometimes with his fielding, he’d make an error, and in New York, it means Derek Jeter’s not playing that day and if you make an error, you hear about it. It can wear on you. He’s a guy who can hit, he hits mistakes. He can make a great play now and then, too.

“I thought he had a lot of talent, a lot of skill. It was just a matter of putting it together, and like a lot of guys, getting to play every day.’’

Teams are willing to sacrifice hitting for a good glove at shortstop, but the Twins apparently decided they can go only so far with that. So unless Florimon suddenly turns into Alan Trammell at the plate, it looks as if there will be a change at one of the vital defensive positions.


La Velle E. Neal III •


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question