SAN FRANCISCO -- Realizing that Eduardo Nunez was more valuable to them as a trade commodity than as a presence in their lineup, the Giants sent the third baseman to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night for two Minor League pitchers.
The Minor Leaguers obtained by San Francisco are Shaun Anderson, 22, and Gregory Santos, 17. Anderson, who was No. 18 on the Red Sox's Top 30 Prospects list at the time of the trade, posted a 6-3 record and a 3.42 ERA at two Minor League classifications. He enters the the Giants' Top 30 list at No. 17. Santos had been pitching for Boston's Dominican Summer League affiliate.
The deal was finalized during the Giants' 11-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, creating a bittersweet scene during the fifth inning. Television cameras caught a sad-faced Nunez embracing teammates as he made his way from the dugout to the Giants' clubhouse at AT&T Park one final time.
Nunez, 30, had confronted widespread rumors that he would be involved in a Trade Deadline deal for the second year in a row. The Giants obtained him last July 28 from Minnesota for left-hander Adalberto Mejia.
On the field, Nunez excelled. He reached base safely in 40 of his last 42 games.
"I just focused on playing," said Nunez. "There was too much rumor. I didn't read too much Twitter. I focused on who's pitching tonight, who's going to pitch the next day. Day by day."
As reports of the trade crystallized, speculation began regarding Nunez's replacement at third base. The obvious alternative is Pablo Sandoval, who agreed to a Minor League deal last Saturday and is currently with Triple-A Sacramento.
However, Giants manager Bruce Bochy mentioned the Giants will face left-handed starters (in order, Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu) in this weekend's three-game series in Los Angeles. The switch-hitting Sandoval has struggled as a right-handed batter against lefties, due largely to a shoulder injury that has nagged him intermittently.
"We're not going to bring Pablo here until we think he's ready," Bochy said.
Conor Gillaspie and Kelby Tomlinson could step in for Nunez for the rest of this season until Sandoval is deemed ready. At Sacramento, Christian Arroyo is nursing a hand injury, though Ryder Jones might be an option. Jae-gyun Hwang was sent to Triple-A last weekend and cannot return immediately.
A long-term possibility is Nunez, who's eligible for free agency after this season.
Asked how he felt about possibly returning to the Giants, Nunez said, "I would love to. I love the organization, I love the group, I love the players, the staff, the fans, the city. But we have to concentrate now on winning a championship for Boston."
Before Nunez left the game, he gave both the Giants and Red Sox a scare when Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon struck him with a 2-2 fastball on the left elbow during the third inning. Though the elbow was padded, Nunez appeared to be in obvious pain. The phrase "damaged goods" probably echoed in the minds of executives from both clubs.
However, Nunez appeared to be fit. He left the Giants with a .308 batting average and 18 stolen bases in 23 attempts. He started 47 games at third base, 17 in left field, 10 at shortstop and one in right field.
"Eduardo did a nice job for us," Bochy said. "He was a lot of fun to have around on the club. He's very talented and that's why a lot of clubs wanted him."