Núñez's future is another decision facing Orioles; Manager of the Year awards - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Núñez’s future is another decision facing Orioles; Manager of the Year awards

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

In the next few weeks, the Orioles will need to make a decision about Renato Núñez.

The 26-year-old Núñez is eligible for arbitration for the first time. Although he has hit with power, several factors are not in his favor.

According to MLBTradeRumors, Núñez could make $2.1 million based on his 60-game statistics in 2020 or $3.9 million if they are extrapolated to a 162-game season. In 2020, Núñez had 12 home runs, 31 RBIs and a .256 batting average with an .816 OPS.

His 2019 stats were 31 homers, 90 RBIs, a .244 average and a .771 OPS.

In his 2 ½ season with the Orioles, Núñez has struck out more than three times more often than he has walked (257 to 77), and his defensive metrics are below average.

In 2020, Núñez started more games at first base (28) than he did at designated hitter (19). Núñez struggled at third base in 2018 (seven errors in 59 games).

With Trey Mancini coming back in 2021, he’ll likely be the first baseman. Ryan Mountcastle played there late in 2020, and there’s still the unfinished business involving Chris Davis.

The Orioles have Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and perhaps DJ Stewart as possible outfielders next season, and one of them could be the DH when not in the outfield.

Even though Núñez’s offensive stats aren’t bad, the Orioles may not want to commit money to a DH when they have other, more versatile options.

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There aren’t many full-time designated hitters. Nelson Cruz, who continues to perform consistently six years after the Orioles refused to offer him a four-year extension, is a notable exception.

Núñez had a .4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in 2020 while Cruz, who’s 40, had a 1.6.

Back when Cruz led the majors in home runs with 40 in 2014, his only Oriole season, he played 70 games in the outfield. He hasn’t played in the outfield even semi-regularly since 2016.

Most teams prefer to rotate an extra bat in the lineup as Orioles manager Brandon Hyde did in 2020 when he could play catchers Chance Sisco and Pedro Severino simultaneously, one at DH and one behind the plate. Hyde could do that because the Orioles had Bryan Holaday as a third catcher on a 28-man roster.

Next season’s schedule, rules and procedures are still in doubt. While the Players Association says it’s preparing for a mid-February start for spring training and a full 162-game season, that might be overly optimistic because of the pandemic.

Major League Baseball and the players have to negotiate the fate of the designated hitter. Because one-third of the games played in 2020 were interleague, the DH was used in all games.

There’s talk that the owners would offer the players the full-time DH in return for their agreement on expanded playoffs. A universal DH is generally thought to mean a higher salaried player.

It’s assumed that even if there isn’t a DH in 2021, a universal designated hitter will be adopted for the Collective Bargaining Agreement that’s set to take effect in 2022.

The uncertainty could hurt the market for Cruz, Núñez and others seen as possible designated hitters, including Michael Brantley, Howie Kendrick and Marcell Ozuna.

With the free agent market off to a slow start and the December 2nd deadline approaching for those eligible for arbitration, it seems unlikely that there will be clarity on a DH for 2021 anytime soon.

Managers of the Year: The most interesting facet of the National League Manager of the Year voting was that nine of the 15 managers received at least one vote.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, who dealt gracefully with the tumult surrounding the Marlins’ early-season Covid-19 decimation, was a deserving winner.

Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash won the AL award. Just six of the 15 managers received awards.

Because of the 60-game schedule, award voting was harder because there weren’t enough games to separate award contenders.

The Orioles last won a major award in 2014 when Buck Showalter captured his third Manager of the Year award.

Cy Young winners will be announced Wednesday, and Most Valuable Player on Thursday.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. 33d St

    November 11, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Hope they keep the 28 man roster. I think that really helped the O’s.
    Didn’t realize Nunez’ fielding was so bad. Had half a thought he could move back to third and we let Rio go. But maybe it’s best to just move on from both and let the kids play. If that happened is there ANY chance they’d put Mountcastle at 3b?

    The advantage would be to get more young bats into the lineup. We have a minor glut at OF/1b/DH even without Davis. We need to see what those guys can do.

    The disadvantage would be his infield defense which I guess isn’t so hot from what everyone is saying. How bad is it really, though?

    And why would it matter if his D is bad if we’re just having another season of “extended evaluations” and not caring about W/L? Wouldn’t that favor one year of RM at 3b if it means we can carry DJ or McKenna etc by letting Rio and /or Nunez go?

  2. Orial

    November 11, 2020 at 7:47 am

    Yes it’s an ominous period Nunez is entering. If Mancini wasn’t coming back I’d say 50/50 whether he’d be needed. With Mancini’s return(not a given) Nunez has to be gone. If only he wasn’t such a klutz at 3B. Don’t know why everybody’s sweating out Davis’ impending return–he’s proven to be on the IL at least 60-70% of the time these last 2 seasons so just let it play itself out. Long story short–Nunez should be gone with Mountcastle/Mancini/Davis( until he inevitably hits the IL) rotating at DH/1B.

  3. VICTORTEE

    November 11, 2020 at 8:15 am

    But we have a roster spot for Chris Davis. Haven’t the O’s ever heard of the business term “sunk costs”. They are stuck with paying him whether he is on the roster or not. And he is useless and takes up a roster spot. CUT HIM!!!

    • CalsPals

      November 11, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Agree, rotating him with Mancini & Mountcastle between DH & 3rd hampers the development of those two, Davis just needs to be let go…go O’s…

    • The Cartoon Bird

      November 11, 2020 at 9:09 am

      Agree as well. It’s also a blatant double standard. One player’s place on the roster is determined by $, everybody else’s is determined by performance.

    • Georgia Oriole

      November 12, 2020 at 11:44 pm

      I think they’re just waiting to see how many games are played next year. If <162 games, then Davis gets a prorated salary and costs less than just cutting him.

  4. Birdman

    November 11, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Not sure the Orioles should be in such a hurry to jettison Nunez. Is he an ideal complete player? No. But he’s only 26 years old, and has 43 HRs and 121 RBIs in his last 203 games.

    We all hope that Mancini will be able to immediately return to his previous form. But what if his comeback is delayed – who plays 1B then? Crush? And even if Trey is ready to go at 1B from day one, who is the DH – Sisco (40% strikeout rate), Stewart (.193 BA in 2020) ?

  5. Orioles20

    November 11, 2020 at 8:49 am

    I think he’s the odd man out. When Diaz is ready the outfield becomes him hays and Santander with mountcastle at first and Mancini at dh. I would assume based on Elias comments about Sanchez he’s most likely the second baseman moving Alberto to third leaving Nunez without a position.

  6. willmiranda

    November 11, 2020 at 9:51 am

    A more general question or two. Now that everyone agrees that the virus situation affects everything, how does it affect the way arbitrators will evaluate offers? Are the projected numbers bandied about adjusted for the changed finances, or are they just adjusted (if they are) for the shortened season? Factual responses preferred, but wild guesses accepted, if they are amusing enough.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 11, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Winning teams don’t have a Renaldo Nunez on their squad. Or a Crush Davis …

    Mr. Elias … do you want to win? Maybe I should be asking the Angelos boys that question instead.

    I’m tired of the waiting game. Time to show us what 2 years of your magical ‘player development’ has produced.

    • Birdman

      November 11, 2020 at 11:14 am

      Boog … It seems clear that ownership is unwilling, or unable, at this point, to make significant free agency expenditures. So as an advocate of Win Now (“no tanking”), who do you think the O’s have at 1B and DH who will be an upgrade over Nunez in 2021? Certainly, if Mancini can return at the start of the season at his old form, he would be an upgrade at 1B. But that still leaves DH. And if there is a delay in Mancini’s return, that leaves two big holes to fill, 1B and DH.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        November 11, 2020 at 2:06 pm

        1st Base? Why we have the comeback player of the century candidate in Crush of course!! Kidding … I’m only kidding!

        1st base is Mancini’s … while Mountcastle is the eventual mainstay at this spot. Consider that hole filled.

        And there’s no hole at DH … either … you have the 4th outfielder and or Mancini/Sisco to rotate around. And let’s not forget about Diaz as a soon to be candidate.

        3rd base is the current hole. But Nunez is not an option here.

        Begone Renaldo! It’s an easy choice.

        • Birdman

          November 11, 2020 at 3:40 pm

          Some big “if’s” in your scenario … Trey’s a great guy, and we’re all pulling for his full recovery and comeback on the field, but we don’t really know if he will be at 100% on day one, or how long that might take … As for a Mancini/Sisco combo at DH, see the previous comment about Trey, and Sisco, with his 40% strikeout rate and .205 career BA, doesn’t seem like an upgrade over a player who has 43 HRs and 121 RBIs in his last 200 games.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            November 11, 2020 at 8:41 pm

            You’re forgetting that I game the 4th outfielder and Diaz as DH options …

    • CalsPals

      November 11, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      No one mentioned Mullins, I thought he played well this yr, especially defensively, hate to see them moving people around all the time, the only reason I see to do it would be to fit a bat into the lineup, otherwise let them get comfortable & play their position…go O’s…

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