After making his major league debut for the Dodgers in 2021, left-hander Darien Núñez saw the cold business side of baseball in 2022 thanks to the timing of an injury.
Núñez pitched in six games for the Dodgers in 2021 after making his major league debut in July. Despite only being in the majors for three months, Núñez was optioned four times by the Dodgers, riding the up-and-down journey between the majors and minors. He might have provided a good test of the limit of five options per season that began with the new collective bargaining agreement in 2022.
Núñez began this season on the 40-man roster, and was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on March 27. Núñez pitched in only three games for OKC before landing on the minor league injured list on April 14.
Ten days later he was designated for assignment by the Dodgers, removing him from the 40-man roster, two days before Núñez was scheduled for Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles. If the Dodgers needed an extra arm earlier in April and had Núñez gotten hurt while in the majors, the left-hander could have spent his season rehabbing while earning a major league salary (at least $700,000 in 2022) on the 60-day injured list.
Instead, he was tossed aside.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who was the Dodgers general manager when Núñez signed with Los Angeles out of Cuba in April 2018, claimed Núñez off waivers on April 27. But rather than keep the left-hander on the 40-man roster, San Francisco released Núñez two days later, instead working out a minor league contract for him to remain in the organization.
That’s how it goes sometimes.
Stats: 7.71 ERA, 3 games, 4⅔ IP, 6 K, 2 BB with Triple-A Oklahoma City
Game of the year
The first of Núñez’s three games for Oklahoma City this year was his best, pitching two perfect innings with three strikeouts against Albuquerque (a Rockies affiliate) on April 5, which was opening day in Triple-A. Núñez earned the win when Jason Martin hit a walk-off home run to lead off the ninth inning.
Núñez is in the Giants organization, but not on the 40-man roster.