Nunez has been solid for the Fish this season, completing 25 of his 28 save opportunities. The 27 year old has maintained an ERA of a 3.51 to go with his 1.20 WHIP.
Florida acquired Nunez from the Kansas City Royals during the 2008 offseason for Mike Jacobs. Since, Nunez has closed games for the Marlins, compiling 26 and 30 saves in 2009 and 2010.
However, Nunez is entering his final year of arbitration and Rodriguez speculates that there is little chance the Marlins pony up and take on the closer’s increased salary.
If Florida was to deal Nunez, it would be coming from an area of strength. Though replacing a closer is easier said than done, the Marlins’ pen has been successful this season. The team currently is sporting the league’s 12th best earned run average and has held hitters to the lowest batting average in the majors.
While Nunez is on pace to set a new career high in saves in 2011, teams may look at him more as bullpen depth than closer material. A pair of NL Central teams, the Reds and Cardinals, are known to covet relievers, and I’m sure others would give the Marlins a phone call if Nunez is made available.
As Dan Mennella over at Closernews.com states, there is no clear cut replacement for Nunez for Florida. They do have several strong performers this year, but many come with question marks.
Randy Choate has been one of the Marlins’ best out of the pen, but he’s more of a lefty specialist and could be shipped out along with Nunez at the deadline. Steven Cishek is the only other Marlin with a save this season and has put up solid numbers (2.08 ERA, 0.97 WHIP). Mennella thinks Michael Dunn could be the future closer in Miami, thanks to his ‘raw stuff’ and high SO/9 (9.91 over 42.2 innings).
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