Gardenhire said the Twins have always kept an eye on Nunez, as they like what he can bring offensively and on the bases. He's a career .267/.313/.379 hitter with 48 stolen bases in 59 tries in 270 games with Yankees. He can play shortstop, third base and second base, but he has struggled defensively throughout his career.
"We've always liked him," Gardenhire said. "We know he can swing the bat and run. He's a good base stealer and has a good arm. The talk is, and I've listened to [former Yankee] Phil [Hughes], that he can get a little sloppy [defensively] at times, but hopefully we can take care of that and get away from that stuff."
Gardenhire added that Nunez was sent to Rochester to get consistent playing time, as he was designated for assignment on Tuesday and hasn't played at all this season in the Minors or Majors.
"We have to let him get some swings," Gardenhire said. "He hasn't played in a while. So we'll let him get going down there and we'll see how he fits up here. We need offense and to score more runs, and we think this guy can help us."
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Nunez was recommended by four of the club's scouts who watched him during Spring Training. He acknowledged that advanced defensive metrics have not been to kind to Nunez, but said the Twins were looking for an offensive addition, and that Nunez can get better defensively.
"I'm pleased with the way we've gotten out of the gates scoring runs, but I think we understand that won't be the case all season, so we had the had opportunity to get an offensive-orientated player," Antony said. "He has had some defensive struggles, but our scouts believe he can play defensively at short or third. And offensively, he has more upside than some of the guys we have."