Nick Punto is a Cardinal

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Nick Punto’s days in a Minnesota Twins uniform have officially come to an end.

The versatile infielder has signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the contract is worth $700,000.

The Twins declined Punto’s $5 million option back in October, paying him a $500,000 buyout instead. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to bring back Punto, 33, to use in a utility role and to give the team protection in the middle infield in case of injuries, but the club appears to have reached its payroll limit after signing veteran starter Carl Pavano this week.

In seven seasons with the Twins, Punto batted .248 with a .323 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 89 stolen bases. But Punto’s value came primarily from his defense and Gardenhire often proclaimed that Punto was his best defensive infielder at whatever position he played — whether it was second base, shortstop or third base.

The Twins have other options for their utility infielder role, including Matt Tolbert who is a switch-hitter like Punto and can play the same three defensive spots. Tolbert is quick, although he doesn’t possess the same defensive prowess as Punto, who was considered to be one of the best defensive infielders in baseball.

Along with Tolbert, the Twins also have Trevor Plouffe as an option at shortstop should the team need a steady fill-in at that spot. Another potential option could be infielder Luke Hughes, who had a short stint with the team this past season.

2 Comments

Would like to have kept Hardy so Casilla could be the utility guy. Tolbert scares me if Nishioka or Casilla gets injured for any extended length. Punto had his detractors, for sure, but he was just overused. His position should have been a late-inning defensive replacement and part of the “B” team. BTW, Gardy plays his “B” team more than once a week to often during the season.

what are the chances of mike young coming to the twins it’s such a great fit. but how much are the twins willing to give up. they gave up santana for basically nothing . we still have diego guerra . we gave up garza, bartlett, for delmon which might be turning in our favor . we’ ll see after this year!! we gave up on most of our relief pitchers this year. so what can we give up to get young ????? but we still have the m & m guys

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