On Friday, it was reported that Dedniel Núñez will have Tommy John surgery, which things have been leading to since he was lifted from a spring training game on March 12 with wrist soreness.
Núñez, 24, will miss the entire 2021 season, and possibly a chunk of 2022 as well. Tommy John surgery recovery can vary greatly, although techniques have been adapting and changing over the years. Recovery can be a full year or up to two, depending on the individual.
The move is extremely disappointing for the young pitcher, as he had been showing promise, and at least through a small sample size, he had shown good command of his pitches. Since Farhan Zaidi became the PBO of the Giants, he had selected three Rule 5 picks over two seasons, but none lasted the full season. Núñez was hoped to be the first to break that.
In the spring, Núñez had thrown in three games, an inning each, allowing one run on four hits and with two strikeouts before the game where he was lifted. He got only one out in that appearance, walking three batters. Núñez had earned praise for his velocity and his slider, and had been showing the potential to be a late-inning reliever down the line.
Núñez was acquired by the Giants as a Rule 5 pick from the New York Mets in 2020. Under those restrictions, he would’ve been required to stay on the active (26-man) roster the entire season, or be offered back to the Mets if the Giants tried to send him to the minors. There are allowances for Rule 5 picks to go on the injured list in situations like this.
In the case where a Rule 5 pick misses the entire season due to injury the year after he’s picked, he stays on his new team, but the restrictions on staying on the active roster when he returns to action stay in place. He must remain active (not injured) on the 25/26-man roster for a total of 90 days (effectively half a season), even if that is interrupted by other injured list stints or it takes going into yet another season to reach that total. After he has served 90 days, he is now a member of his new team without restrictions and can be optioned to the minors freely. Rehabilitation stints in the minors are allowed before the player returns to the majors.
Núñez was originally signed by the Mets in October, 2016, as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 20 years old. In three minor league seasons, he’d accumulated a 4.47 career ERA with 176 strikeouts and 55 walks in 165.0 innings of work. In his most recent minor league season in 2019, he’d finished in High-A ball and K/BB ratio to 4.09, above the mid-2s it had been in his previous seasons. He did struggle with giving up hits, as he had a career average allowed of .255, although that had been improving over the years.