USA Today Sports

What another year of Eduardo Nunez looks like

Rob Bradford
November 01, 2018 - 12:26 pm

Eduardo Nunez will be back with the Red Sox in 2019. The player and team made that official Thursday

Nunez had a $5 million player option he exercised for next season, choosing the deal over getting a $2 million buyout from the Red Sox which would have allowed him to become a free agent.

So, what now for Nunez?

Part of the plan for the 31-year-old was as a fail-safe at second base while Dustin Pedroia got healthy. But because of Nunez's right knee injury, the position was not a good fit. Eventually, he found his sweet spot in the infield at third base, sharing time with Rafael Devers.

But with Pedroia potentially returning in 2019 and the Red Sox hoping Devers starts evolving into an everyday third baseman, where will that leave Nunez? The Red Sox' utility infielder will continue to be Brock Holt, who will be the one offering protection at second base this time around. That would seem to limit the usefulness of Nunez.

The righty hitter obviously can still serve a purpose, particularly as a fail-safe if Devers struggles at all. With another offseason getting that right knee 100 percent, this is a player -- who we saw at times throughout the postseason -- can add valuable offensive punch (albeit not the kind of power the 22-year-old alternative possesses).

Much of Nunez's role will depend on Pedroia's status and Devers' evolution. He has also played outfield and shortstop, but neither of those spots seem anything more than break-glass-in-case-of-emergency kind of options.

In a nutshell, at $5 million, Nunez's presence is probably not the worst insurance policy, and even teams coming off 119-win seasons need some of those.

Related: Tomase: Dave Dombrowski deserves a ton of credit