Pittsburgh Pirates: Four Potential Minor League Free Agent Targets

DENVER, CO - JULY 15: Reyes Moronta #54 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies during game two of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 15: Reyes Moronta #54 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies during game two of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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DETROIT, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 14: Renato Nunez #55 of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on August 14, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 14: Renato Nunez #55 of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on August 14, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Renato Nunez

The only position player we’ll be taking a look at today, Renato Nunez would provide a power bat at first base and designated hitter. He’d also provide a solid hold-over until Mason Martin is in the majors. If the Pirates sign Nunez while also resigning Yoshi Tsutsugo, he would make Colin Moran expendable.

Between 2019 and 2020, Nunez was quite a solid batter. He hit .247/.314/.469 with a .329 wOBA, and 104 wRC+. The 1B/DH provided some quality power. He blasted a total of 43 home runs in 815 plate appearances. That comes out to about 31 long balls in a full season’s worth of plate appearnces (600) He also had a strong .221 isolated slugging percentage.

The only thing is that he’s pretty much an all-or-nothing power hitter. Nunez only walked at a 7.5% pace while striking out 25.4% of the time. While neither are awful numbers, they’re not good either. Nunez has a flyball approach, hitting the ball in the air at a 45.9% rate in ‘19-’20. Though he also had a solid 21.7% LD%. Aside from power, he doesn’t do anything particularly well, nor does he do anything particularly bad either.

After the 2020 season, the Orioles non-tendered Nunez. He bounced around with the Detroit Tigers and then the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite only receiving 55 plate appearances in the major leagues in 2021, Nunez still has the power. At Triple-A this year, he had a .268/.360/.515 line and 21 home runs in just 386 plate appearances (about 32 across 600 PAs). He was walking more often, this time at a 9.6% clip. Though his strikeout rate of 24.1% wasn’t a major improvement.

Next. Pirate Prospects 2021 Season Recap: Quinn Priester. dark

Nunez may not provide much defensive value, but if he could continue to hit .250/.310/.460 with 20-25 home runs, he’d be more than worth the small investment. The Pirates do need some power, at least until Oneil Cruz and Mason Martin are ready.

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