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Eduardo Núñez could make the Mets’ 30-man roster

The backup utility player stands a shot to play a role in 2020, especially with expanded rosters.

New York Mets v Houston Astros Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With the Mets needing more infield depth at the upper levels of the organization, they inked veteran Eduardo Núñez to a minor-league deal in January. While you may not remember it because [gestures at everything], Núñez was having himself quite a standout performance in spring training before everything shut down, coming in first place for the coveted Amazin’ Avenue King of Spring Training award for the shortened spring.

With the team a little banged up heading into the original Opening Day on March 26, Núñez looked like a decent bet to make the Mets’ 26-man roster out of camp and serve as a part-time utility player. However, with Michael Conforto completely healthy now, Yoenis Cespedes saying he’ll be ready for Opening Day, and Jed Lowrie allegedly existing in some form, Núñez is more on the back-burner now than he was in March.

That being said, rosters have been expanded from 26 to 30 players to start the season, which means Núñez still has a chance to make the team out of summer camp. Even if he does not, injuries and other health issues will almost certainly arise during the year, meaning that Núñez can stick around on the taxi squad at the Mets’ training site in Brooklyn and be on-call if he is needed during the season.

In March, Luis Rojas talked about Núñez’s positional versatility and expressed a desire to give him chances at different positions. They never got a chance to fully explore that, and his opportunities at summer camp have been limited due to the priority being placed on getting the starters ready for game action. While he’s never been a positive defender anywhere, Núñez has gotten time at second base, third base, shortstop, and corner outfield in his career, and could theoretically play any of those positions for the Mets this year.

Besides that, Núñez doesn’t bring much else to the table, as he was an absolutely dreadful hitter last season, with a 35 wRC+ in 174 plate appearances. He has just a 67 wRC+ in his last 676 plate appearances dating back to the start of 2018. That output, combined with his poor defense, has given him a combined -1.3 fWAR over the last two seasons.

Once a useful utility player for the Twins, Giants, and Red Sox, Núñez has seen his value dissipate with age. His hot spring training aside, he’s not really someone you want to see get significant playing time in any capacity. But Núñez’s track record of being productive as recently as late 2017, as well as his ability to be plugged in at several positions if things go terribly awry, means he’s not the worst guy to have in reserve for a season like this.