Oakland A’s prospect Renato Nunez was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers on Sunday, the A’s announced.
Nunez entered the 2018 season on the bubble for a roster spot. He’s out of minor league options so he needed to pass through waivers in order to be sent down to Triple-A, but the need to make that decision got delayed when he opened the season on the 10-day disabled list. He recently returned to action in the minors on a rehab assignment, but it looks like he’ll continue that recovery in a new organization.
In terms of skill set, Nunez brings a ton of power but not much else. His 32 homers last year tied for second-most among all Triple-A players, even in Nashville’s extremely pitcher-friendly park. However, he’s never hit for high averages nor gotten on base, and defensively he profiles best as a DH. He’s always been young for each league he’s played in, but now at age 24 that will no longer be a valid excuse in the minors. He appeared in Oakland each of the last two Septembers and notched his first big league homer last year.
Nunez, MLB career: 5-for-30, .460 OPS, 1 HR, 1 BB, 11 Ks
Nunez, AAA 2017: .249/.319/.518, 109 wRC+, 32 HR, 8.8% BB, 26.5% Ks
Last winter, Athletics Nation voted Nunez 15th on our Community Prospect List, a slight drop from the previous winter (12th). It was the eighth year in a row that he appeared on our CPL, after signing out of Venezuela as a teenager in 2010.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much room to fit Nunez into Oakland’s 2018 picture. Khris Davis has the DH spot locked down, while the Matts are entrenched in the corner infield positions where Nunez has the most experience. The corner outfield is covered for now between Matt Joyce and Stephen Piscotty, and there are plenty of right-handed backups in Jake Smolinski, Mark Canha, and Chad Pinder. All of that is before getting into prospect depth, beginning with right-handed big-bat infielder Sheldon Neuse in Triple-A. It’s disappointing to lose Nunez for nothing, but the fact is that his skill set (righty DH) is not highly valued in today’s market even for established MLB stars.
There’s always a chance that Nunez could pan out in Texas and become one of those prospects who got away, much as Nelson Cruz did once upon a time. But there simply wasn’t room for him here, and he didn’t capitalize on his previous opportunities to force his way into the lineup. His last chance to prove himself was the Cactus League this spring but he missed basically the whole thing with an ill-timed injury, just as happened to Joey Wendle last year. It’s an unfortunate way to close the book on his Oakland tenure, but now he’ll get a fresh chance with a new club.
Good luck, Renato! But not too much, at least until/unless you leave the AL West.