Twins Pick Up Kubel’s Option, Decline Punto’s

The Twins exercised Jason Kubel's $5.25MM option for 2011 and turned down Nick Punto's $5MM option, according to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier (on Twitter).

Kubel posted a .249/.323/.427 line this year and his lowest OPS since 2006. He hit 21 homers, spending most of his time at right field and DH. The 28-year-old would have been a Type A free agent, so Minnesota could have obtained draft picks if Kubel had turned down arbitration to sign elsewhere. As we predicted in August, the Twins chose to retain Kubel for another season.

Punto, 33 next month, batted .238/.313/.302 in 288 plate appearances and played short, second and third. As Thesier pointed out earlier this month, the Twins were not expected to pick up Punto's option. He is not a ranked free agent, so the Twins won't get compensation picks if they offer arbitration and he signs elsewhere. An offer of arbitration for Punto seems extremely unlikely. 


55 Responses to Twins Pick Up Kubel’s Option, Decline Punto’s Leave a Reply

  1. No surprises here, my hope was that Kubel wouldn’t regress nearly as much as he did last year. Hopefully he returns to form next year since Thome is likely to get a bigger payday elsewhere. I assume Punto will be back on a much smaller deal for next year. No way Gardy lets him just walk away.

    • Yeah I bet they bring Punto back for like a $1.5 million deal. $5 million is way too much for a bench guy. He might be the best defensive player in baseball though. I just don’t see the Twins letting Nick Punto go.

  2. $1529282 5 years ago

    I’d actually hoped they’d buyout Kubel’s option and use the money to bring back Thome. Love Kubel and I always pull for the guy, but he’s just not as good of a hitter as Thome, and he’s just as terrible in the field as our other corner OF options.

    • TwinsVet 5 years ago

      Last year, Thome was certainly better than Kubel. But next year, Kubel is more likely to have a better year, IMHO. He has a chance to progress, while Thome will inevitably regress. Add in the fact that Kubel can take 600 AB’s, while Thome is limited to around 300, and I’ll take Kubel any day for a similar price.

      • $1529282 5 years ago

        I should clarify — my ideal situation would’ve been a Thome/Marcus Thames platoon at DH, which would allow Thome to rest against lefties, hopefully keeping him fresh, and offering big-time production against LHP, all for around the same price as Kubel’s option (within $1M or so anyway).

        If you get 400 PAs out of Thome and 200 out of Thames, that DH production will outweigh Kubel’s any day. Watching Kubel against lefties is pretty painful, and he didn’t demolish right-handers enough to make up for it in 2010.

        I really do love the guy, so hopefully he can come back strong, but it’s also saddening to me that this probably means we won’t see Thome’s 600th HR come in a Twins uniform.

        • TwinsVet 5 years ago

          If we went out and spent $5M on Thome, I’d be upset. The guy had a great year, no question. But what are his chances of repeating it? He benefited from the low-pressure situation of not having to be a heart-of-the-order guy, and when pressed into that role down the stretch and in the playoff, he floundered.

          Kubel is better on the bases, can play OF (albeit not strong), and I still contend has a better chance of putting up a .280/.330/.450 line next year than Thome.

          On a straight Kubel-vs-Thome comparison, I’ll take the 2011 version of Kubel all day long.

          If Thome was ever going to come back, it was (is) going to be because he wants a chance to win, likes Minnesota, and trusts Gardy will give him the proper AB/rest ratio he’s looking for. We never had a chance and don’t want to be in the position of negotiating with Jim if he’s looking for the biggest payday.

          Keep faith. I’m convinced he’ll leave a few million on the table to go out on his terms, instead of the type of situation he finished 2009 wherein he wasn’t getting the AB/rest ratio he enjoys.

        • The_Silver_Stacker 5 years ago

          Thames is a good bet to resign with the Yankees, we still need a right handed hitter that kills lefties to complement Gardner so he fits the need very well.

      • $1529282 5 years ago

        I should clarify — my ideal situation would’ve been a Thome/Marcus Thames platoon at DH, which would allow Thome to rest against lefties, hopefully keeping him fresh, and offering big-time production against LHP, all for around the same price as Kubel’s option (within $1M or so anyway).

        If you get 400 PAs out of Thome and 200 out of Thames, that DH production will outweigh Kubel’s any day. Watching Kubel against lefties is pretty painful, and he didn’t demolish right-handers enough to make up for it in 2010.

        I really do love the guy, so hopefully he can come back strong, but it’s also saddening to me that this probably means we won’t see Thome’s 600th HR come in a Twins uniform.

  3. $1529282 5 years ago

    But hey, ding dong Punto’s dead. Five long years I’ve been waiting for this day… time to celebrate.

    • PookieGonzales 5 years ago

      I kinda have this sinking feeling that he will be on the royals next year…… sigh…….

  4. dontsellthefarm 5 years ago

    Not sure if i like this option on Kubel being picked up by the twins. He is still young but i feel he has no value in the field and should of looked to use that money saved for a full to part time DH that is right handed. With the M and M boys being lefty handed i think they need to find a right handed hitter that can break them apart in certain situations. You see how Utley and Howard were exposed this post season and lead to a new batting order. Also look at the value that Jason Werth as brought to the Phillies that past few seasons. Twins are to loaded on the left side and dont even ask twins fans about Kubels production in the post season.

    • TwinsVet 5 years ago

      Picking up a 28-year old lefty slugger for under $6M is a no-brainer. Kubel would easily get $6-9M on the open market.

      • dontsellthefarm 5 years ago

        Well they signed him so what about putting him a trade for some more pressing needs like infield help or pitching.

        • TwinsVet 5 years ago

          Certainly possible. PRO’S: depth of OF help, depth of LH hitting. CON’S: Twins have invested alot in Kubel’s development and the front office really believes him capable of an MVP-caliber year.

          I’d have to look at possible trade partners to see if anything makes sense, but my instinct is the Twins value Kubel much more highly than other clubs (he did win the AAA Triple Crown) and there’s not the high-end 2B help available that we’d want in return.

          • dontsellthefarm 5 years ago

            You make very valid points. I feel the twins have what it takes to win right now on offense without Kubel. He has been a non factor for the team in the post season like Nick Swisher of the Yankees. If the twins ever want to get out of the first round of the playoffs, they need to make an investment in pitching via trade or free agency.

          • The_Silver_Stacker 5 years ago

            Kubel is really a Nick Swisher lite.

          • dontsellthefarm 5 years ago

            You make very valid points. I feel the twins have what it takes to win right now on offense without Kubel. He has been a non factor for the team in the post season like Nick Swisher of the Yankees. If the twins ever want to get out of the first round of the playoffs, they need to make an investment in pitching via trade or free agency.

      • dontsellthefarm 5 years ago

        Well they signed him so what about putting him a trade for some more pressing needs like infield help or pitching.

  5. djskilbr 5 years ago

    Kubels’ fully worth it at that price though.

    If nothing else he’s easily tradeable. But I’d kind of like to see what he and Cuddy could do in contract years this year. The other thing to consider is that they’re both likely to be Type A FA’s next year. Hopefully Benson/Revere will be ready by then.

    • TwinsVet 5 years ago

      Joe Benson? He seems to be a few years away yet. Twins don’t rush many guys through the minors, and Revere/Gibson appear to be the only two guys in the system right now who could come up and make an impact in 2011/12. We might catch a glimpse of Benson in fall of 2012 on the expanded roster, but I’d be surprised if it was before that.

      • djskilbr 5 years ago

        Disagree. Benson more than held his own (.863 OPS) in over 100 games at AA this year. He’s going to start this year in Rochester most likely. With a good year this year at AAA, I think he starts in 2012.

        Revere is very close to ready now. And Gibson plus bullpen guys (Gutierrez, Burnett, Waldrop, Slama) should make impacts this year.

        • TwinsVet 5 years ago

          He started the year last year in high-A. Going from Fort Myers to the Twins in 3 years would be a pretty rapid trajectory for a guy in our organization. Sure, he could do it, but he’d have to leap past Hicks on the depth chart, and that’s no small obstacle. I find it more likely Revere(2011)-Hicks(2012)-Benson(2013) find their way into our OF. And even Revere could well be held back this year, pushing the others back a year as well. They’re not going to bring Hicks/Benson up to have them sit on the bench, and with Span/Delmon out there already, there’s no room for them to get AB’s.

          Gibson will be interesting to watch in winter ball / spring training. If he continues to do well, he could be in the bullpen April 1st. And he’s got that ability to pitch out of the pen in 2011, and then take a rotation spot in 2012.

          • djskilbr 5 years ago

            No he wouldn’t have to leap past Hicks. Hicks is going to start the year in Fort Myers. Benson will start the year in Rochester. Benson only started last year at Fort Myers as a confidence-booster. I think Hicks will be ready by mid-2012 or so with a big year this year.

            I agree on Gibson in the pen. That’s what I’d like to see as he only pitched 151 innings last year. They’ll need to restrict him to 180 or so this year, and starting in the pen would be a good way to do it. I see him replacing Duensing or Blackburn by midseason.

          • TwinsVet 5 years ago

            But Hicks is ranked higher on the depth chart. When you ask the front office to talk about the future of their outfield, they talk Revere and Hicks well before Benson. Benson was never projected terribly high, so there’s a good chance he goes to AAA and comes back down to earth.

            As for Gibson replacing Duensing/Blackey, I’m a big fan of Brian. I think he sticks in the rotation. The past two years he’s been absolutely stellar coming up late. That leaves Gibson with an outside shot of working his way into the rotation this year (certainly next year), and replacing *somebody*. Our rotation has been so volatile – every year, take your pick of Baker/Slowey/Blacky as far as who’s going to be shaky. Blackburn looked real good after working some things out in Rochester, so I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see Gibson replace Slowey, and Slowey shipped out of town. Gibson will knock out one of those 3 in all likelihood, but it’s anybody’s guess about who it will be.

          • The_Porcupine 5 years ago

            What can we expect out of Gibson? Is he closer to Liriano or closer to Blackburn in terms of his stuff.

          • djskilbr 5 years ago

            In between. Liriano’s one of the best pitchers in the sport, so tough to put that expectation on him. But he projects to be very good. Maybe Tommy Hanson as a ceiling.

            As for Hicks/Benson, totally disagree. Hicks is one of the best prospects in baseball, so of course they talk about him more. His ceiling is higher. But Benson is still a good prospect who they’re high on (Radcliffe and Rantz have both raved about him as a “jewel” in past interviews). And his ETA is sooner. He could easily be playing for the Twins in 2012 as a five-tool OF’er himself. In a couple of years the Twins are going to have to make some trade decisions with Young/Span still young and under team control, and potentially all of Hicks/Benson/Revere/Angel Morales offering good, young, cheap alternatives.

          • TwinsVet 5 years ago

            He’s more of a command pitcher, ala Brad Radke, with three plus pitches and upside. Ceiling: Greg Maddux. Basement: Kevin Slowey.

            In reality, it’s too early to tell where he’ll land. But he’s certainly not projecting to be a Liriano-style ace.

          • CrisE 5 years ago

            Two things:

            I completely agree with your assessment of Gibson’s stuff and style and the fact that he’s still very young.

            But your comparisons make me smile: ceiling of Maddux but not nearly as ace-like as Liriano?

          • TwinsVet 5 years ago

            Maddux was an ace, obviously. But he’s not the prototypical ace. When people talk “ace” nowadays, they’re typically looking at the type who put up a k/9 in excess of 9.

          • TwinsVet 5 years ago

            But Hicks is ranked higher on the depth chart. When you ask the front office to talk about the future of their outfield, they talk Revere and Hicks well before Benson. Benson was never projected terribly high, so there’s a good chance he goes to AAA and comes back down to earth.

            As for Gibson replacing Duensing/Blackey, I’m a big fan of Brian. I think he sticks in the rotation. The past two years he’s been absolutely stellar coming up late. That leaves Gibson with an outside shot of working his way into the rotation this year (certainly next year), and replacing *somebody*. Our rotation has been so volatile – every year, take your pick of Baker/Slowey/Blacky as far as who’s going to be shaky. Blackburn looked real good after working some things out in Rochester, so I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see Gibson replace Slowey, and Slowey shipped out of town. Gibson will knock out one of those 3 in all likelihood, but it’s anybody’s guess about who it will be.

          • djskilbr 5 years ago

            No he wouldn’t have to leap past Hicks. Hicks is going to start the year in Fort Myers. Benson will start the year in Rochester. Benson only started last year at Fort Myers as a confidence-booster. I think Hicks will be ready by mid-2012 or so with a big year this year.

            I agree on Gibson in the pen. That’s what I’d like to see as he only pitched 151 innings last year. They’ll need to restrict him to 180 or so this year, and starting in the pen would be a good way to do it. I see him replacing Duensing or Blackburn by midseason.

        • Bernaldo 5 years ago

          Slama will not be making any impact on the Twins. Pretty clear that they have no plans for him except as a AAA/emergency call up kind of guy. Burnett started strong but was very hittable in by July and was sent down but still seems in their plans. Waldrop and Gutierrez remain question marks with potential but their minor league number don’t shout “top prospect” here.

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      Cuddyer will be a Type-A, but would they offer him arbitration after earning $10.5M this year? Maybe if he has a monster season a la 2009, but I think Cuddyer’s rapid 2010 decline was a sign of things to come, and not simply a down year. The guy’s never been an elite hitter by any means, and he’s always had glaring weaknesses at the plate. I don’t know for the life of me why pitchers don’t just pound breaking balls down and away. He’s been in the Majors for nearly a decade and he’s still never learned to hold up on that pitch. I don’t think any player on our team looks as bad striking out as Cuddyer on a slider that’s down and away. I routinely am surprised that he didn’t fall on his face with some of those swings.

      As a person and clubhouse presence, I like Cuddyer. As a player, well, I hope this is his last year in Minnesota, and we don’t keep him around because he’s Michael Cuddyer. Not when we’ve got guys like Hicks, Benson, and Morales working their way up and warranting a shot. I want to see those guys in the outfield in years to come, not a 35 or 36-year-old Cuddyer that’s lost all power but our front office can’t bear to let go because of his big smile and crazy magic tricks.

      • djskilbr 5 years ago

        Sure. In both cases, it depends on how they perform in 2011. But the OF market is fairly weak next offseason. I think both will warrant signings even as Type A’s.

      • djskilbr 5 years ago

        Sure. In both cases, it depends on how they perform in 2011. But the OF market is fairly weak next offseason. I think both will warrant signings even as Type A’s.

      • TwinsVet 5 years ago

        Back in the early 2000’s, three Twins players routinely held a contest before BP to try and put balls over the RF baggie off a batting tee: Cuddyer, Ortiz, and LeCroy.

        Only Cuddyer was able to do it.

        His power was no fluke, but ability to do it consistently over the course of a season may well be behind him.

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      Cuddyer will be a Type-A, but would they offer him arbitration after earning $10.5M this year? Maybe if he has a monster season a la 2009, but I think Cuddyer’s rapid 2010 decline was a sign of things to come, and not simply a down year. The guy’s never been an elite hitter by any means, and he’s always had glaring weaknesses at the plate. I don’t know for the life of me why pitchers don’t just pound breaking balls down and away. He’s been in the Majors for nearly a decade and he’s still never learned to hold up on that pitch. I don’t think any player on our team looks as bad striking out as Cuddyer on a slider that’s down and away. I routinely am surprised that he didn’t fall on his face with some of those swings.

      As a person and clubhouse presence, I like Cuddyer. As a player, well, I hope this is his last year in Minnesota, and we don’t keep him around because he’s Michael Cuddyer. Not when we’ve got guys like Hicks, Benson, and Morales working their way up and warranting a shot. I want to see those guys in the outfield in years to come, not a 35 or 36-year-old Cuddyer that’s lost all power but our front office can’t bear to let go because of his big smile and crazy magic tricks.

  6. bigpat 5 years ago

    I can’t imagine Gardy without Punto. I think they’ll look into signing him at a reduced salary. He was incredibly overpaid, but he’s actually a good role player. He did ok this year because they didn’t have to press him into a starting job.

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      He’s a fine role player, but Ron Gardenhire simply does not comprehend that. I’m sure if Punto had been healthy this summer, Valencia never would’ve had the chance to play because Gardenhire would’ve scoffed at the notion of playing a rookie with upside over his guy Nicky.

      If Punto re-signs, he’s going to end up pressed into everyday duty at some point, because Gardenhire just can’t help himself.

      Here’s hoping this is the end of Punto in Minnesota. I’d say “thanks for the memories, Nick…” if it weren’t for the fact that the strongest memory I have of you as a Twin is running us out of an inning in the 2009 ALDS and then blaming the crowd for you being too bullheaded to pick up Ullger’s sign. Good riddance.

      • TwinsVet 5 years ago

        I was at that game, a few rows up from 3B. He didn’t miss the sign because of the crowd, he missed it because he approached the base with his eyes fixed on home plate.

        • twins33 5 years ago

          He said it was the crowd though. He wasn’t looking at Ullger and the crowd cheered really loud thinking it was a hit. So he said he thought because the crowd cheered…the ball made it through so he could run.

          • TwinsVet 5 years ago

            Still a stupid mistake. Maybe we were cheering because there was an infield hit late in a close game? Nick “Chopper” Punto of all people should understand that concept.

          • twins33 5 years ago

            I agree, but that’s what he pretty much blamed it on. He he was listening to the fans rather than paying attention to what he was supposed to.

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      He’s a fine role player, but Ron Gardenhire simply does not comprehend that. I’m sure if Punto had been healthy this summer, Valencia never would’ve had the chance to play because Gardenhire would’ve scoffed at the notion of playing a rookie with upside over his guy Nicky.

      If Punto re-signs, he’s going to end up pressed into everyday duty at some point, because Gardenhire just can’t help himself.

      Here’s hoping this is the end of Punto in Minnesota. I’d say “thanks for the memories, Nick…” if it weren’t for the fact that the strongest memory I have of you as a Twin is running us out of an inning in the 2009 ALDS and then blaming the crowd for you being too bullheaded to pick up Ullger’s sign. Good riddance.

  7. twins33 5 years ago

    My two wishes came true, though Punto might be back somehow…someway (blah). I wouldn’t mind trading Kubel if they can get something good for him, otherwise I’m fine with him at this price. Hopefully this was just a down year. We definitely need a guy who can hit lefties to platoon with him though.

    • TwinsVet 5 years ago

      I’m skeptical they can get much in return. They’d be looking for a Grienke or Uggla, and I don’t think Kubel could possibly be a centerpiece in a deal like that. Anybody parting with the kind of cheap, star talent the Twins would want would cost even younger, cheaper talent in return.

      • $1529282 5 years ago

        Yeah, he’s a better fit for a team that’s already a contender, but needs some extra offense and doesn’t mind bad defense. The Giants and Braves are good examples of teams in which Kubel’s services could be used, and both have pitching depth to spare, but it’s not like we’d be in a position to ask for a strong return. Probably better off hoping he rebounds and collecting the picks when he departs via free agency.

      • twins33 5 years ago

        I agree, but I wouldn’t be opposed to dangling him just to see.

  8. twins33 5 years ago

    My two wishes came true, though Punto might be back somehow…someway (blah). I wouldn’t mind trading Kubel if they can get something good for him, otherwise I’m fine with him at this price. Hopefully this was just a down year. We definitely need a guy who can hit lefties to platoon with him though.

  9. jhawk90 5 years ago

    Hey that 5 mil buys a lot of grit, hustle, determination and base running mistakes. I’ll miss those straight-to-the-DL head first slides into 1B. Poor Gardy.

  10. Bernaldo 5 years ago

    I suspect that between Punto/Casilla/Tolbert, one of the those guys will get the 2B job next year and one stays for certain as the utility guy. Punto wants to play for Gardenhire who in turn wants Punto on his team so I think he comes back at a much more team friendly deal. If a team is willing to trade some offense for defense, 2B/SS is the postion where that usually occurs and Punto has excellent range at 2B and is very good at turning the DP. That said, I think Punto is best used as a utility infielder. Punto does have a plus glove at 2B/SS/3B who runs well, is a good bunter and will always play hard. That’s what you need in a utility infielder.

    • twins33 5 years ago

      I’m hoping it’s Casilla out of those three. He has the most potential. The problem is that he seems to be only capable of performing when he’s not handed something.

  11. cubfan4life 5 years ago

    Bringing back Kubel is a good idea but it may mean the end of Thome in Minnesota. Thome seemed excessive when he signed last offseason but was needed when Morneau went down. It seems like if they want to bring in another DH type this year it should be someone that can capably handle either 1B or LF so they can give Morneau a day off from the field and play LF so Kubel can be more of a full time DH.

    Cost effective options include RH hitters Xavier Nady, Andruw Jones and Ty Wigginton and LH hitters Brad Hawpe, Mark Kotsay, and Rick Ankiel.

    Of those the ones that make the most sense are Wigginton due to his ability to play all over the place (and we all know how much Gardy loves a utility player), he can hit for power, and he just seems like a Minnesota type guy. The other is Mark Kotsay if he leaves Chicago. He is a very good defender at both 1B and in the OF and is a solid hitter. However he is LH so that may not fit into what they already have.

    Wigginton is the obvious choice because he provides a solid 6-7 hitter and above average defense at multiple positions. He can also provide a nice backup plan if Valencia struggles or Morneau struggles coming back from his concussion

    • twins33 5 years ago

      I think another requirement would be someone that could hit lefties. Kubel pretty much can’t, though he has his moments.

      • cubfan4life 5 years ago

        That is another reason why Wigginton fits. He is a career .275 hitter against LHP and has a career .816 OPS with an OPS+ of 112.

        So even though his 2010 numbers didnt look that good his career numbers show that he is good but not great against LHP.

        Even though Nady has a better BA against LHP he provides less defensive ability and less defensive flexibility that is why Wigginton should be a guy that MIN targets this offseason.

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