Marlins closer Leo Nunez was suddenly placed on Major League Baseball’s restricted list Thursday and sent back to his native Dominican Republic.
And now we know why.
According to the Associated Press, the right-hander has been pitching under a fake name and a fake birth date since arriving in the United States back in 2001.
Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he is 29 years old — not his listed age of 28.
The Marlins have reportedly known about the issue for several months, but they’ve refused comment to this point and may remain silent until the federal government reaches some kind of ruling. This, after all, is no longer a baseball matter.
Nunez (er, Oviedo) posted an effective 4.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 55/21 K/BB ratio in 64 1/3 innings this season for the Fish, converting 36 of 42 save opportunities. He will be entering his third year of arbitration eligibility if allowed back into the country, and back into the major leagues.
The Marlins designated utilityman Derek Dietrich for assignment, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. This comes amid a flurry of moves on Tuesday night as teams prepare their rosters ahead of the Rule 5 draft next month.
Dietrich, 29, is coming off another strong season in which he hit .265/.330/.421 with 16 home runs, 45 RBI, and 72 runs scored in 551 plate appearances. He played all over the diamond, spending most of his time in left field and at first base. Dietrich also played some second base, third base, and right field.
Dietrich is entering his third of four years of arbitration eligibility. He earned $2.9 million this past season and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $4.8 million in 2019. Cutting Dietrich represents a bit more than 4 million in savings for the rebuilding and perennially small-market Marlins. Dietrich should draw some interest, so the Marlins could end up trading him rather soon.
Wonder how J.T. Realmuto, now the longest-tenured Marlin, is feeling right about now.