He signed a two-year, $3,350,000 contract that includes a club option for 2008 and performance bonuses.
"Nunez gives us some versatility in that he can play three infield positions and is a switch-hitter," said Gillick.
Nunez, 29, began last season as an extra infielder with the St. Louis Cardinals. When Scott Rolen went down with season-ending shoulder surgery, Nunez became the everyday third baseman the rest of the season and in the post-season.
He played 98 games at third base (77 starts), 22 at second and 21 at shortstop. In 139 games, Nunez hit .285 with a career-high five home runs and 44 RBI. He hit .364 with three runs scored in the Division Series against the San Diego Padres and .385 in the League Championship Series vs. the Houston Astros.
His average in late and close situations (.375) ranked fifth in the National League and he was among the top 10 with a .319 average after the sixth inning. As a pinch-hitter, Nunez batted .250. He was second on the Cardinals with six pinch-hits and tied for the most RBI, five.
The Dominican native was originally signed as an amateur free agent by Toronto in 1994. He was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates following his second pro season. Nunez played in the majors with the Pirates, 1997-2004, and signed as a free agent with St. Louis last January. With the Pirates in 2004, he was fourth in the National League with 62 pinch-hit at-bats.
Lifetime, he is a .248 hitter with 16 home runs and 161 RBI in 769 games.
The addition of Nunez puts the Phillies' 40-man winter roster at 37 players.
On the surface, this is a seemingly low-key acquisition of a utility player, until you lay out the facts surrounding third base. Only then can you realize this has the potential to grow into more than just bench help.
Nunez projects to be a more attractive, cheaper option than most of the players on the list of 2007 free agent third baseman, headed by names like Edgardo Alfonso and Pedro Feliz. In addition, there is nothing brewing on the farm but Mike Constanzo (65th pick overall in June 2005 draft), but he's years away.
As for the short term, there is reason to be modestly excited. On paper, he's an improvement over the rapidly eroding David Bell, who's under contract for one more season. Hardball Times Win Shares ranks the switch-hitting Nunez 8th best in the NL, compared to 16th for Bell. Fielding Win Shares are surprisingly high, putting him 6th in the league, below Bell, who is 2nd.
All I would ask is a repeat of 2005. With power coming from two infield positions, Nunez doesn’t need to swing a big stick or carry a full-time load. However, if his OPS sinks closer to his career mark of .640, the Phils may have wasted a draft pick. There is significant risk with this signing.
Bottom line question
Can he repeat last season? If he does, he could develop into a platoon or majority AB replacement for the man who replaced Scott Rolen.