AL Central: Could Detroit Tigers Trade for Eduardo Nunez?

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AL Central: Could Detroit Tigers Trade for Eduardo Nunez?
Associated Press
While he's no star, Eduardo Nunez would go a long way for the Detroit Tigers.

Five players capable of handling the middle infield made the Yankees' Opening Day roster. Eduardo Nunez was not one of them.

Surprise rookie Yangervis Solarte made the roster after a very impressive spring training, while fellow rookie Dean Anna will presumably be filling in on the Yankees bench until Brendan Ryan comes off the disabled list. Regardless, the surplus resulted in the Yankees designating Nunez for assignment.

Now, the Yankees have eight more days to decide what to do with Nunez. They could send him to the minors, trade him or release him. He makes a quality depth option, but there may be a job for Nunez on one of the American League's best teams.  

With Jose Iglesias out for most, if not all, of 2014, the Tigers went out and acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles to take the reigns at shortstop. Gonzalez proved Dave Dombrowski right quickly, playing hero in the Tigers' 4-3 win on Monday. However, the 37-year old has played in just 65 games over the last two seasons, and in addition to putting up average defense (-3.1 UZR in 2012, 0.5 UZR in 2013), Gonzalez struggled at the plate in 2013, hitting just .177 in 113 at-bats with the Brewers last season. 

So a strong Opening Day aside, Gonzalez isn't exactly a strong option at short when put into the context of his last two seasons. And if the Tigers are going to pursue Stephen Drew, it seems at this point like they will wait until after the draft in June to avoid giving up draft pick compensation. So unless they want to ante up to acquire Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks or Nick Franklin from the Mariners, there aren't exactly a plethora of quality shortstops available at a reasonable price.

Nunez is average at best as a defensive shortstop, but at the dish, his bat is a significant upgrade over the .177 average Gonzalez posted in 2013. While Nunez is as far from a power hitter as there is, he did hit 17 doubles in just 90 games in 2013, also stealing 10 bases (out of 13 attempts) in just over half a season. And even if the Tigers want to give Gonzalez a shot, having Nunez there to platoon with him will give Brad Ausmus a reliable option when Gonzalez needs a day off, which he will at some point.

Nunez is not as young as Gregorius or Franklin, nor does he have nearly as high a ceiling. But while there aren't currently any reports indicating that the Tigers will claim Nunez if he makes it to their spot in the waiver order, he was once considered the heir to Yankee legend Derek Jeter, and while he's certainly not a game-changing acquisition, the fact that he is both cheap and an upgrade makes swinging a deal for the 26-year-old a no-brainer for Detroit. 

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