Cardinals Sign Nick Punto

The Cardinals announced that they signed Nick Punto to a one-year deal, according to's Matthew Leach (on Twitter). It's a $700K deal, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Agent Charles Schneider represents the longtime Twin.

Punto hit .238/.313/.302 in 288 plate appearances for Minnesota last year. He played second, short and third in 2010, his seventh campaign in a Twins uniform. Punto has never hit more than 4 home runs in a season, but the switch-hitting 33-year-old can steal a base and back up around the infield. He'll presumably play a similar role to the one Brendan Ryan has in the past few seasons.

The Indians and Punto had "meaningful negotiations" earlier in the winter.

Free agent infielders Orlando CabreraWilly AybarDavid Eckstein and Ronnie Belliard remain available, but middle infield options are disappearing, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows.

110 Responses to Cardinals Sign Nick Punto Leave a Reply

  1. Not sure how this is a good signing.

    • cookmeister 4 years ago

      good for twins fans maybe?

    • It’s easy to explain. The Cards really want to show Pujols they’ll spend to win!

      He’s cheap and he plays 3 of the 4 IF positions. Not sure if they already had a utility guy or not, but that’s more than likely what he is to them.

      • I just figured between Tyler Greene and Allen Craig they can back up just about every position except catcher. Why spend the money?

        • mattevilspawn 4 years ago

          Because Punto’s one player and Greene and Craig are two. Aside from good defense, Punto also has a little speed. So one roster spot is saved on the bench… Maybe for a power bat(?) Because Tony loves power.

          I’m wondering if TG will be the odd man out, since Punto has more IF value.

          • Redbirds16 4 years ago

            Craig/Berkman would be that ‘power’ bat.

            TG does look like the odd man out. I guess the Cards just like veterans better than cheap rookies. Although Mo professes to build a system based off building a strong minors system and promoting from within, his signings would appear to say otherwise. I’m talking about Laird, Punto, Winn, Miles, Suppan, etc…

          • KeithLawSucksInStl 4 years ago

            The Cards DO like cheap rookies, the problem is that LaRussa DOESN’T.

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            Don’t forget that Craig, Jay, and Descalso are 3 cheap rookies who will probably get opening day Major League bench jobs for the 2011 Cardinals.

            Also, although Craig, Greene, and Descalso have all spent some time at 3rd base, Punto is much more familiar with the position, which is important insurance with Freese’s injury history.

      • I guess Albert will just have to accept less on his extension, now that the Cards signed Punto! Albert has always said he’s a team player, so he and his agents will have to adjust their numbers down a little. lol ;’P

        • Really? That makes perfect sense… He’s signed for 2011 only Pujols is already signed for 2011 if a deal is made it will be an extension for Pujols starting in 2012.. therefore Punto is dumped after 2011 and Money is available again…

    • mattevilspawn 4 years ago

      After Schumaker and/or Theriot make three errors in the same game, then Punto comes in on defense, makes the plays, and saves Carpenter from punching a wall in frustration, then you will understand. 😉

    • 4551232220476 4 years ago

      this signing is the pits. please twins fans chime in. tell cardinal nation,et al, your experience with the teacher’s pet punto over the last few years. gardy loved him…if he was still serviceable he would still be in the TC. i’m all for gamers- i believe punto is aaron miles with less clutch hitting ability….aka not worth it.

      crede would have been the appropriate signing…or just roll with greene and craig..

  2. $1529282 4 years ago

    The reign of terror is over. Congratulations Drew Butera, you’re Ron Gardenhire’s new pet.

  3. crunchy1 4 years ago

    This move just moved the Cubs one step closer to contention in the NL Central.

    • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

      You guys get Garza and all of a sudden your contenders??… ha its gonna take much more than that..

      Keep in mind you also lost Lee and Gorzelanny for Pena and Garza
      Better but it doesnt make your team a threat

      • crunchy1 4 years ago

        Yes, but you have Nick Punto.

        • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

          Yes, and a World Series Ring for every finger…. KISS THE RINGS CHI TOWN! KISS THE RINGS!

          • crunchy1 4 years ago

            I think your caps lock is stuck.

          • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

            Thats what happens when you press the caps “Lock” button.. youll get it one day

          • crunchy1 4 years ago

            I hope not. Is it contagious?

        • MoCrash 4 years ago

          Punto is merely a depth guy. LaRussa has always been big on having quality utility players (not that he’s always had them). Any PAs Punto gets over 150 is bad news for the Cardinals.

          • crunchy1 4 years ago

            As someone to inject some occasional energy, hustle, effort, etc to go along with his defense, he’s fine. If he starts getting the majority of ABs, then he becomes a negative. Punto had a way of stealing Ron Gardenhire’s heart and I’m hoping he can do the same to LaRussa.

          • Redbirds16 4 years ago

            Could have signed Eck for that… and he’s already a fan favorite in StL.

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            Eck can’t play 3rd base.

      • disgustedcubfan 4 years ago

        We also resigned Jeff Baker.

    • Rick Garcia 4 years ago

      yeah this move isnt great but the card are still the better team sorry pal

    • As long as A. Soriano & Fukudome are on the Cubs roster, they have no chance of contending in the NL Central, except for maybe 4th place!

      • crunchy1 4 years ago

        Oh…I’m not very good at predicting so I’ll just let the season play out. I will say that I’m not very optimistic about the Cubs, though. But I’m of the belief that Nick Punto on the Cardinals ever so slightly increases the chances of every other team in the NL Central. 😉

        • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

          That makes no sense.. you add depth to your infield and increase your teams speed and your unsure how that helps the team? You actually think it decreases our chances?? Please explain this, or are you just high?

          • MoCrash 4 years ago

            It does some some posts (especially from Cubs fans) suggests a hallucinogenic intake exceeding human tolerance (even for Cubs fans, or at least the human ones).

          • CreepyPockets 4 years ago

            Lot of good that depth will be when Little Nicky Punto dislocates his wrist, pulls both hamstrings, and has to be taken to the ER for an emergency apendectomy after one of his trademark gritty headfirst slides into first base. Or he could do the same frantically running back to first base after he’s halway to third on a routine fly ball.
            EvilSpawn’s not high at all, he’s just seen LNP’s magic act a few too many times.
            Plus, you have no sense of humor.

          • CreepyPockets 4 years ago

            And by EvilSpawn I meant Crunchy1, of course.

        • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

          still makes no sense

        • rayking 4 years ago

          I am tempted to agree with you, mainly because I have read the laments of Twins fans on this site regarding the offensive ineptitude of Punto. Also, LaRussa tends to love “gritty” guys, like Aaron Miles, more than is deserved.

          If LaRussa uses him correctly, namely only as a defensive replacement, this move does not hurt the Cards.

          That being said, I agree that a credible argument can be made that every other team in the NL Central slightly benefits from this move, because every AB Punto takes is one that could have been used by someone more capable with the stick.

          • crunchy1 4 years ago

            I’m really just exaggerating how bad Punto is. Just joking around…. mostly. If he does end up starting, however, he can potentially cost them for the reason you and some others have stated. If he’s just a reserve, as expected, I don’t think he hurts them at all.

            LaRussa does like his scrappy, gritty guys — but you can’t argue with his success overall as a manager, I guess. It’s only fair that he gets to keep a pet or two 😉

          • mattevilspawn 4 years ago

            I can’t see Punto as an everyday starter on a LaRussa team. He’ll be a versatile, defensive super-sub. In the event that one of our starting infielders is hit with serious injury and Punto defaults into an everyday role, Larussa will have Mo burning up the phone lines.

          • crunchy1 4 years ago

            In that type of role, he’s fine. Like you said, he’s a good defender and he’s versatile. The danger is that a manager falls in love with his effort and hustle then plays him more than he should, as the Twins seemed prone to doing — and as we Cub fans had to suffer through in the days of the Dusty Baker/Neifi Perez yearly April to September love affair.

  4. JamesOrLurch 4 years ago

    I don’t know much about Punto, but he can’t be worse than Miles. Oh, and his name is fun to say.

    • $1529282 4 years ago

      No one is worse than Miles. That said, Punto is a maddening, frustrating player to watch. At least he’s an incredible fielder… as long as he doesn’t hurt himself by sliding headfirst into first base for about the 12th time in his career.

      • At least Miles did an outstanding job as a relief pitcher. No…really.

      • adieuordie 4 years ago

        Skip Schumaker slides headfirst into first base at least 12 times a month. I don’t get it.

        • $1529282 4 years ago

          Does he continually end up missing a week at a time or hitting the 15-day DL as a result?

          • adieuordie 4 years ago

            No… I wish. Perhaps they’d pick up an actual second baseman if he did.

          • Didn’t St Louis acquire Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers? I heard he may be slated for 2B.

          • brstreet9 4 years ago

            No. Mozeliak traded his shortstop (Ryan) away to make room for Theriot (there are theories about Ryan’s personality that led to that trade, but that is another story). Skip is still the 2B.

          • 0vercast 4 years ago

            Punto never figured out that a starting infielders health is more important than a single.

      • Redbirds16 4 years ago

        Miles always seemed to play well for the Cards. Him and Suppan among others. They must be the type of players who can be inspired by TLR and DD. Brendan Ryan and Juan Encarnacion would be the other extreme.

        • Lanidrac 4 years ago

          I never have understood the disappointment in Miles. Isn’t it a good thing when a bench player hits over .280 and plays decent defense at two different positions?

  5. The_BiRDS 4 years ago

    Seriously guys? Punto is Brendan Ryans replacement.. he may not be much of and upgrade but Punto and Theriot > Brendan Ryan. Well done Mo.

    • I just don’t see much upgrade over Tyler Greene is the problem. The only advantage Punto has over Greene is experience and I’m sure that’s what this is about. Experience off of the bench for Tony.

      • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

        Tonys move, I agree. Tony has all power this year.

      • PujolsHollidayWestbrook 4 years ago

        This isn’t meant to upgrade over either Brendan Ryan or Tyler Greene. Ryan Theriot (like it or not) is the “upgrade” for Brendan Ryan. Starting SS for penciled in starting SS. The Cardinals carry 12 pitchers. That leaves 13 position players, 5 being bench spots. The current Redbird bench is as follows: Catcher Gerald Laird, OF Jon Jay, OF/Corner IF Allen Craig, INF Tyler Greene and 1 more guy.

        Nick Punto is a replacement for the departing Aaron Miles. Before the Punto signing, that guy was Daniel Descalso. So Punto is the 25th man on the roster. He is the veteran that La Russa wants instead of turning over a roster spot to a Rookie. Now, TLR can use Punto where he has value (defensive replacement, and good matchups) and not a Rookie who TLR is notoriously against using. Descalso gets everyday time in Memphis, and Punto adds 25-man depth. I like the signing on the cheap.

        • Lanidrac 4 years ago

          Personally, I see Descalso as the favorite over Greene. Greene has never had enough Major League experience to get past rookie status, either, and Descalso has hit Major League pitching (including the Major Leaguers faced in Spring Training last year) a lot better than Greene so far.

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Punto and Theriot < Brendan Ryan, Tyler Green and $3 million.

    • disgustedcubfan 4 years ago

      As a Cub fan, I’ll predict by the end of the season you will have seen enough of Theriot to want Ryan or Eckstien back.
      Theriot stats on paper look OK, but he has got the worst baseball instincts of any player I can think of. He does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score that gets you’re team beat.

      • 4551232220476 4 years ago

        as a rabid baseball fan (and esp a card fan) living in chicago i completely agree with impatient cub fan. we may not notice immediately, but overtime you will see little range and poor base running decisions in spades out of theriot. he is not too bad as second basemen, but handing him a ss position with the cards pitching philosophy makes zero sense.

        it will be very intresting because theriot is a player you really want to like. he is another of the grindy types that appeal to afficianados but his lack of instincts during his time in chicago were visible when watching him play on a regular basis…
        it will be interesting if he will be another one of those players that will blossom more under larussa’s and especially oquendo’s tutelage.

  6. Just hope you don’t see him overshoot third base in the NLDS. I still have nightmares from that. I always liked Punto; he’s a gamer and a great clubhouse guy, but he’s just not productive at the plate (unless the bunt is on).

  7. Brendan Ryan?

    And this signing is simply for depth, but i’m not sure it’s an actual improvement over their in-house utility guys. But it’s not a crippling signing, and they added a utility man with some experience

  8. alan09 4 years ago

    a lil depth, insurance & experience can go a long way sometimes when there is not to much on the farm.

  9. mister_rob 4 years ago

    Cardinals are seeing how many infielders who have ZERO chance at posting a 375 SLG% they can fit on one roster

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Do I hear 4? How about 5? I bet we get a midseason acquisition that can push it up to 6…

      • Lanidrac 4 years ago

        Let’s see, obviously not Pujols or Freese, Schumaker easily topped it 3 years in a row from ’07-’09, Theriot has a career .356 SLG so he has a chance, so that leaves Punto and Greene/Descalso, although even Descalso might be capable of topping that mark.

  10. goredsgo 4 years ago

    Can’t believe Punto got a major league deal on a team that will most likely contend

  11. twins33 4 years ago

    Gardy needs a hug. As a utility man he’s fine. Bye PUNTOOOOOOOO

  12. scottz0113 4 years ago

    1/21/11 = V-P (Victory over Punto) Day in Minnesota.

    St. Louis, enjoy the 8-10 stellar defensive plays you’ll see this year, along with 3 pulled hamstrings, 4 headfirst slides, 5 poorly executed bunts, and 1 double.

    • InTheKZone 4 years ago

      It’s sad to say but even given all that, he’s still an improvement over Aaron Miles.

      • Lanidrac 4 years ago

        Defensively sure (although Miles was decent), but let’s see Punto hit over .280.

  13. carlpavanosmustache 4 years ago

    The only problem with this deal is it’s only for one year not two, everybody knows Punto plays best in even numbered years and it’s 2011. Shortsighted cardinals.

    • twins33 4 years ago

      Ha! I didn’t think about the whole even year thing he has going on. It might have switched to odds though since his 2010 was very poor.

  14. I can’t wait to yell “HEY PUNTO” at the top of my lungs at Cards games this year.

    • $1742854 4 years ago

      As a Twins fan, let me tell you that you will also add the sub-phrase “, you SUCK!” to your aforementioned yell about 5 games into the season

  15. Sky14 4 years ago

    good clubhouse guy, hustles, and can play great defense at any of the infield spots…cant ask a whole lot more from a backup utility guy

    • CrisE 4 years ago

      >>…cant ask a whole lot more from a backup utility guy.

      Not from him, no, but you can sure ask your manager to stop playing him so often.

  16. NordeastMPLSTwinsFan 4 years ago

    phew. I thought the Twins we’re going to end up signing him and he’d end up “competing” for a infield spot that he would get and not deserve. Overall, Punto is a good utility guy that makes some defensive plays that look really good, but probably could have been made by many starting players without the flashiness.

  17. mattevilspawn 4 years ago

    I like this move. A lot. Our D took a hit w/the loss of Boog. Instead of quoting offensive numbers, the article should have included defensive numbers, as well. Because this was clearly a defense-motivated move.

    Punto’s career UZR:
    2B: 7.9
    3B: 29.9
    SS: 27.2

    He’s not bad in the OF, either in the rare instance he’s used there. (e.g., Late inning defensive replacement for Berkman.)

    • MoCrash 4 years ago

      Jay, Craig or even Schumacher would probably be the defensive replacement for Berkman. Punto could probably do it in a crunch, but he adds better quality depth in the IF — and is arguably a defensive upgrade at any of those three positions.

      • mattevilspawn 4 years ago

        Like I said, “rare instance”. I agree with you in that the logical move would be Punto to 2B, Schumaker slide to RF in the late innings. Please don’t include Jon Jay in the conversation, though. Not saying the kid won’t eventually develop into a good defender. But after losing Ludwick, it was frustrating to watch Jay in the field last year. Multiple times he botched plays Luddy would’ve made easily. It’s clear Jay’s still learning.

  18. dwarfcatt 4 years ago

    Ding! Dong! The Witch is dead!

    Which old witch?

    The wicked witch!

  19. Seals 4 years ago

    Brendan Ryan was the Cardinals’ starting shortstop, not a utility guy. Punto is vying for a back-up job, nothing more. His signing doesn’t deserve half of these idiotic comments.

    • mattevilspawn 4 years ago

      Yeah, I didn’t get BNS’s Brendan Ryan comparison either. Even with the caveats of “presumably” and “similar”. Boog was our everyday starting SS. The Punto signing is clearly for the bench.

      • After the Theriot signing but before the Ryan trade Brendan was seemingly slotted to be the utility guy. Mos tof the attention about Ryan this offseason has come from the perspective of him being a utility guy. I imagine that BNS isn’t familiar with the Cardinals and based his “similar role to the one Brendan Ryan has in the past few seasons” comment on what he’s read (and posted) this offseason.

  20. Pujols will be blinded by the grit

    • Guest 4 years ago

      haha, awesome! I am glad to see Punto gone from my Twins, but at the same time happy to see him sign with a competitive team. I was lucky enough to meet him a couple times, and he’s a really nice guy. He’s got a TON of heart and wants to be in the game, it was just Gardenhire’s obsession with starting him regularly over other (and in my opinion superior) options that really turned a lot of fans against Nick. That said, Cardinals fans have never seen anyone grimace like Punto 😉

      • mattevilspawn 4 years ago

        Grimace? Really? I’ve watched quite a few Twinkies games (mostly when Liriano starts!), but wasn’t aware. Bonus! I remember when Holliday signed, my gf and I were watching the story on TV and they showed a clip of Holliday getting a hit then blowing a bubble. I turned to her and said, “Oh, yeah! I forgot he likes to blow big bubbles. That’ll be fun to watch.”

        • 0vercast 4 years ago

          Check out the Star Tribune front page for a classic Punto grimace while throwing.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Classic! Might be my favorite Punto pic ever :-)

      • 0vercast 4 years ago

        Very well said. I totally agree.

  21. Gumby65 4 years ago

    Ronnie Belliard? Manny has him in his luggage.

  22. As a Twins fan, good riddance to bad rubbish

  23. addition by subtraction

  24. BFunkTwins 4 years ago

    St. Louis just got some of the best defense in the game. If he is a backup guy and the contract isnt over 2m its not a bad deal.

  25. $1639238 4 years ago

    Wohoo! Hello 2011 World Series Championship. I know all the naysayers out there are saying “what is the point of this”. You just don’t get it. With the addition of Punto, the Cardinals are ranked top 5 in grittiness, hustle and heart. With Punto lacks in the ability to hit a baseball, he makes up for with his lack of ability to hit a baseball with…but with heart. Great signing.

  26. good smart signing by the Cards

  27. NordeastMPLSTwinsFan 4 years ago

    This also happens to be the best signing of the off-season for the Twins.

  28. Twins GM 4 years ago

    Man now Punto will have a bunch of pitchers hitting better than him too!

    • Lanidrac 4 years ago

      Maybe Wainwright, but that should be it. At the very least, he can out-hit Carpenter.

      (Half) joking, here.

  29. jhawk90 4 years ago

    Punto just blew through a stop sign on South Broadway and Spruce and is barreling out of control towards Oakville…

  30. I never understood why Nicky swings for the fences every pitch only to crush the ball with all of his might and the end result is a can of corn to the outfielder. But with that said, he is the best fielder the Twins have had in the infield for many years and for a guy who’s not even tall enough to ride the roller coaster at the amusment park he has a gun of an arm. Love him or hate him he’s a good guy to have coming off the bench.

  31. 0vercast 4 years ago

    Punto had a couple decent years in his 7 seasons with the Twins, and he made some very impressively flashy plays in the field. I won’t miss him, but I still respect his hustle and wish him well in St. L.

    I recall someone on here a couple years ago comparing the “Slugging to Grit ratio” when discussing whether Punto or Brendan Harris would make a better starting 3rd basemen. They jokingly argued Punto had much more grit than Harris, easily enough to offset Harris’ “slugging” advantage.

    One of the funniest things I’ve read on here. It stuck with me.

  32. Punto is a Phillies KILLER! He will play them hard every chance he gets. He’s still upset at being traded for Eric Milton.

  33. Stl_Great 4 years ago


  34. GREAT pick up for the Cards!

  35. Ricky Bones 4 years ago

    He’s the definition of a TLR player.

  36. The Cardinals just became the most scrappiest team in the NL Central.

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