MLB

Red Sox World Series hero Eduardo Nunez reportedly opts to return to team in 2019

The Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series on Sunday, knocking off the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to complete one of the top team seasons in recent memory. Not even a full day later, one of their players has opted in for a chance at repeating: MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported on Monday that Eduardo Nunez has exercised his $5 million player option.

Nunez’s decision to forego free agency isn’t surprising. He signed a one-year pact last winter worth $6 million after a three-year run that saw him average a 106 OPS+ and 24 steals. In 2018, his first full campaign with the Red Sox, he posted an 81 OPS+ and just seven steals. Combine his below-average offense with his poor defense and he tallied -1.1 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference. That figure was the third-worst among the 144 players who finished with more than 500 plate appearances, ahead of only Chris Davis and Victor Martinez — and yes, Martinez’s season was such that he opted to retire.

When he was playing well, Nunez couldn’t top $6 million on the open market, so it stands to reason bad Nunez was going to have to settle for less than that — and likely less than the $5 million he’ll make instead. Nunez will likely be okay returning as a reserve who sees action all over the infield, including spotting Rafael Devers at third base against southpaws. Nunez could also figure into the Red Sox’s plans at second base, depending on how Dustin Pedroia’s body holds up and whether Boston adds an outside Plan B to pair up with Brock Holt.

Although Nunez may have been lackluster in the regular season, he did author some pivotal moments in the World Series. His gritty performance in Game 3, when he seemed to hurt himself on two or three occasions, is likely to live on in Red Sox lore and he crushed a three-run homer in Boston’s Game 1 win.

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