The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters signed free agent infielder Renato Nunez, according to various reports from Japan. Nunez’s one-year contract will pay him 180 million yen plus incentives, which is equivalent to approximately US $ 1.6 million.
The Venezuelan Núñez goes to Nippon Professional Baseball after six years in the majors, standing out for a 31-homer season with the Orioles in 2019. Nunez has shown some power, but not much in the way of average or OBP, and glove work in the corner box for below average. As a result, the Orioles didn’t bid him last winter, and Nunez could only find a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers:
There wasn’t much playing time in Detroit, as Nunez received just 55 MLB plate appearances last season and hit .189 / .218 / .472. After being released by the Tigers in August, Nunez caught up with the Brewers on another minor league deal, but saw no action in the major leagues.
While Núñez didn’t hit much for the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, he did hit big numbers at Triple-A Toledo, hitting .291 / .383 / .585 with 20 home runs over 311 at-bats for the best farm of the losers. Tigers
Nunez had the ability to choose free agency after the season, and he took that option to return to the open market and later settle with the Fighters.
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Nunez still isn’t 28 years old until April, and he would be far from the first hitter to rediscover his hit after a season in Japan. If Nunez can translate his power into a more consistent production at the plate, he could carve out a good niche with the Fighters, or perhaps return to MLB in the future.
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NPB: After six years in MLB, Venezuelan infielder will try his luck in Japan