Saturday, March 29, 2014

New York Yankees: Eduardo Nunez out, Yangervis Solarte in?

The New York Yankees have one roster spot left and it has come down to Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte. Dean Anna, according to multiple reports, was told Friday night that he’d won a spot on the 25-man roster. Nunez and Solarte were told not to pack for Houston just yet.

Nunez is the once promising, yet extremely inconsistent right-handed hitter and Solarte is a switch-hitting upstart non-roster invitee.

Nunez has been given chance after chance to have a larger role with this team, but the Yankees might have finally begun to sour on him. Solarte took the Grapefruit League by storm with an early barrage at the plate and has kept his average above the .400 mark since.

Each player is versatile enough to play multiple infield spots. Solarte’s advantage is that he can hit from both sides. Nunez’s advantage is his experience as a major leaguer and maybe more importantly he’s on the 40-man roster and Solarte is not.

What should the Yankees do?

I think it is fairly simple, but I’ve been known to be way off base (see my last bullpen spot prediction here).

Nunez is never going to amount to anything but filler on this or any team. The Yankees know this already (or they should) or else they would have just decided on keeping Nunez.

The delay here is most likely about two things; who gets knocked off the 40-man roster if they select Solarte or there is a potential move outside the organization the Yankees are trying to make. The team has until Sunday at 3 p.m. to finalize its roster. The Yankees open the season Tuesday night in Houston.

There is a chance that the Yankees have had enough of Nunez and will simply designate him for assignment, making room for Solarte. Or they could option Nunez and DFA someone else, maybe Preston Claiborne or another pitcher?

There is also a chance the Yankees are looking to find a new home for Nunez or Solarte. At this stage in the spring there are many moving parts and teams scramble to fill holes that were never solidified in their own camp. If the Yanks can get something in return for either player that helps elsewhere, they’d surely consider it.

Me? I’d take this opportunity to part ways with Nunez. I’ve never understood what the Yankees have seen or hoped they had in Nunez. He’s had some stretches of good play but for the most part there is nothing spectacular about a guy with a career .692 OPS in 827 major league plate appearances and a poor glove. His bat in the minors was no better posting a .680 OPS in almost 3,000 plate appearances. This spring he’s been given ample time at the plate and turned in a .668 OPS. This is Nunez.

Solarte, 26, showed some promise in the Texas Rangers organization. In two seasons at Triple-A, Solarte amassed a line of .282/.332/.404 OPS (1,145 PA) hitting 11 homers in 2012 and 12 in 2013. Solarte’s hot spring in which he’s hit .429/.489/.571 through Friday’s game, flashes nice upside when measured with his numbers in the minors.

Solarte’s ability to hit from both sides also provides Yankees manager Joe Girardi with flexibility for a pinch hitter in late innings. Can you see Nunez ever providing that ability?

The Yankees could just as easily decide to stick with Nunez and worry about what to do with Solarte later. I firmly believe that would be a mistake and Nunez’s time with the Yankees has finally run its course. And if Nunez makes the club, he’s on notice that he is very close to heading out the door.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.