Don’t count on Eduardo Nunez as Derek Jeter’s successor

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Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote a column over the weekend hyping 23-year-old prospect Eduardo Nunez as the Yankees’ eventual successor to Derek Jeter at shortstop.

Madden frames it as if the Mariners asking for Nunez held up the Cliff Lee trade. That could be technically true in that at some point general manager Brian Cashman surely said no to adding more and more prospects to the proposal, but Nunez was hardly the centerpiece of the negotiations and the Yankees would have gladly given him up in a deal for Lee if they felt the rest of the package was reasonable.

Madden also quotes two different scouts who have doubts about Nunez both offensively and defensively, none of which stops the columnist from writing that he “is viewed as a big part of the Yankee future.” Mark me down as skeptical, to say the least.

Nunez is still fairly young and has plenty of physical tools, so he’s certainly capable of developing further and becoming a viable big leaguer. However, right now he looks like utility infielder material after hitting .289 with a .340 on-base percentage and .381 slugging percentage in 118 games at Triple-A this season. Nunez managed just four homers in 464 at-bats and drew just 32 walks in 506 plate appearances.

At some point Jeter will cease being New York’s shortstop and when that time comes the Yankees may turn to someone like Nunez to take over for him, but he’s far from a top prospect, let alone “a big part of the Yankees’ future.” Barring some major improvements, Nunez looks a lot more like a Bubba Crosby than a Robinson Cano as far as promising young Yankees go.

Nationals sign George Kontos to minors deal

George Kontos
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The Nationals selected the contract of reliever George Kontos from the Atlantic League Long Island Ducks, per an official announcement on Saturday. The right-hander has been assigned to Triple-A Fresno, but could still make his season debut sometime before the first half of the season draws to a close.

Kontos, 33, hasn’t pitched in the majors since he took a handful of back-to-back-to-back gigs with the Pirates, Indians, and Yankees in 2018. He inked a minor league pact with the Cubs over the offseason, but failed to break camp with the team and was subsequently released in mid-April. He turned in seven strong innings for the Ducks since then, allowing one run and one walk and striking out six of 27 batters in six appearances.

Last year, the veteran reliever posted a combined 4.39 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, and 5.1 SO/9 over 26 2/3 innings. While he hasn’t pitched anywhere close to his career-best numbers in four years, he may still provide some valuable depth for the club, whose bullpen ranks 10th best in the league with a cumulative 4.59 ERA and 5.9 fWAR so far in 2019.