Dodgers Were ‘Pissed’ When Giants Claimed Darien Núñez Off Waivers

Darien Núñez was among the franchise-record 39 pitchers who appeared in a game for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2021 season, which came three years after the team signed him as an international free agent.

Núñez struggled to the tune of an 8.22 ERA, 7.74 FIP and 1.56 WHIP in six games (one start), but the Dodgers still had high hopes for the hard-throwing lefty. Núñez was expected to be a significant contributor in 2022, but had his year cut short after sustaining an elbow injury that required season-ending Tommy John surgery.

In a procedural move, the Dodgers designated Núñez for assignment to open a spot on their 40-man roster. The San Francisco Giants wound up claiming him off waivers and have overseen his recovery from the operation.

According to Núñez’s agent, Armando Rios, the Dodgers expected the left-hander to clear waivers and planned to sign him to a multi-year Minor League contract, via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic:

They had told Rios of their plans to take his client off the roster. But they wanted to sign Núñez to a two-year minor-league contract. They pledged to pay for his follow-up care and rehab.

“We’re like, ‘Well that’s great, but he has to clear waivers,’” Rios said. “They said ‘Don’t worry about it.’ The Dodgers thought nobody would take him. I didn’t think so, either. I gave it maybe a 1 percent chance. I mean, it’s going to be two years before he can pitch.”

Rios said the Dodgers were livid when the Giants added Núñez to their organization:

“So the Giants picked him,” Rios said. “And the Dodgers were pissed.”

Rios revealed the Giants offered Núñez significantly more money than the Dodgers and perks that come with being a Major League player despite signing a Minor League deal:

They offered him more money than the Dodgers had — seven times as much, according to Rios. They offered him housing and car allowances. They helped him bring his brother, Dariel, from Cuba. They pledged to invite him to major-league spring training in 2023, even though he’d just be spending all of February and March rehabbing at the Papago Park complex anyway. His locker at Scottsdale Stadium was empty all spring. But the big-league camp invite came with major-league meal money and a host of other perks.

It has been nearly two years since Núñez appeared in a Major League game, but he could potentially be close to joining the Giants. The 30-year-old started a rehab assignment last month and has struck out 17 batters in 12.1 innings pitched across 11 games for three affiliates.

Darien Núñez could join list of former Dodgers on Giants roster

If Núñez makes his Giants debut at some point this season, he would join a roster that includes former Dodgers pitchers Scott Alexander, Ross Stripling and Alex Wood, and outfielders Joc Pederson and AJ Pollock.

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