The Dodgers appear to have made their very first move of the winter off-season. Although not officially confirmed by the team, word has spread throughout the interwebs that they have moved catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Seattle Mariners for left-handed relief pitcher Vidal Nuno. Per Ken Gurnick at MLB.com:
Nuno, 29, was 1-1 with a 3.53 ERA and a career-high 1.33 WHIP in 55 appearances, all but one in relief, although he has made 42 Major League starts. He was drafted by Cleveland in 2009 and released two years later, briefly playing independent ball before signing with the Yankees in June 2011. Nuno made it to the Major Leagues in 2013, then was traded to Arizona in '14 for new teammate Brandon McCarthy and was traded to Seattle with Mark Trumbo in 2015.As you may know, last week rumors spread that the Dodgers were making it known that recently acquired veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz was available for a trade. He had been acquired late this season from Philadelphia for AJ Ellis. Furthermore, Ruiz has a $4.5 million option for the 2017 season -- a rather affordable contract considering his veteran status and ability to still hit effectively. So, the Dodgers dangled him out there and apparently they got a few bites. BTW, this move basically assured that Austin Barnes will get first shot at the backup catcher position next season.
As for Nuno, he grew up in National City in San Diego County, played college ball at Baker University in Kansas, and was subsequently drafted by the Indians in the 48th round. A couple of years later he was released, played independent ball, soon signed with the Yanks, then traded to the Diamondbacks, then Seattle. Principally a starter, he was converted to the bullpen a couple seasons back in hopes that he could show some lefty magic. Per Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
In the first two months of 2016, Nuno had a 1.02 ERA in 20 appearances, with 21 strikeouts (31.3% rate) and one walk in 17⅔ innings. But from June 1 through the rest of the season, Nuno’s ERA was 4.61 in 35 appearances, with 30 strikeouts (16.7% K rate), 10 walks and 10 home runs allowed in 41 innings.He also throws a changeup roughly 19% of the time. From what I understand, that is the pitch that first got the attention of the Yankees in 2011. Per a story written about him then, via Rob Abruzzese at Bronx Baseball Daily:
Per Brooks Baseball, Nuno used his slider 40.4% of the time in 2016 (average 84.6 mph), and used his four-seam fastball 28% of the time (average 90.2 mph).
Nuno credits his newly found changeup as the reason he went from getting cut by the Indians to thriving in the Yankees system.In celebration of Nuno's impending trade to Los Angeles I made the above fantasy card for him. I used a photograph grabbed from mlb.com and the 1956 Topps Baseball card design.
“I didn’t have a changeup,” Nuno told Nick Peruffo of the Trentonian. “I had the command, but that changeup has been a key factor for the last year and a half. You have to mix up speeds with these great hitters coming up through the levels.”
Check out his career stats via Baseball-Reference below:
UPDATE: Per a Dodgers press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuño from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Nuño, 29, spent the 2016 campaign with the Mariners, going 1-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 55 games (one start). The National City, CA, native has a 5-20 record with a 4.02 ERA in 126 games (42 starts) in four Major League seasons with the Yankees (2013-14), D-backs (2014-15) and Mariners (2015-16), while limiting left-handed hitters to a .224 batting average during the course of his career. Nuño was originally selected by the Indians in the 48th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Baker University and went 34-18 with a 2.94 ERA in 98 games (66 starts) in seven minor league seasons.
Ruiz, 37, appeared in 14 regular-season games, going 10-for-36 (.278), and in seven postseason games for the Dodgers after being acquired from the Phillies on Aug. 25, combining to hit .264 with three homers and 15 RBI in 62 games. The 11-year MLB veteran has a .266 career batting average with 68 home runs and 404 RBI in 1,083 games with Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
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