Nick Punto Rumors

Twins Notes: Pavano, Liriano, Crain, Punto

Let's take a look at some Twins tidbits..

  • The Twins and Carl Pavano are still close to a deal but appear to be in a temporary holding pattern, writes Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.  The sides still have some details to work out but they've agreed to put the talks on hold through Tuesday. 
  • Tabling the talks with Pavano should allow the Twins to focus on their potential arbitration cases.  Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Delmon Young are all scheduled to swap figures with the Twins on Tuesday.  Christensen points out that the Twins settled all eight of their potential arbitration cases at the eleventh hour last year.
  • The Twins made some attempts to retain Jesse Crain but ultimately knew that relievers Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, and Jon Rauch would sign elsewhere, according to Christensen.
  • Nick Punto is still on the open market but the Twins don't have any plans to bring the infielder back, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.  Punto, 33, has spent the last seven years with the Twins, hitting .248/.323/.324.

Cards Notes: Pujols, Penny, Punto, Eckstein

In a chat with fans today, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dished out some information about the Cardinals' remaining offseason wants, some free agent rumors and the Albert Pujols extension talks.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Strauss thinks it's "feasible" that Pujols could agree to an extension that doesn't stretch over as many years (maybe a five- or six-year deal) but pays him the highest average annual salary in baseball history.  This way Pujols gets his big payout, but it doesn't leave St. Louis on the hook for a huge salary in the seventh or eighth year of a longer contract.
  • The Cardinals are looking for some infield depth at shortstop and third base, plus another starter to provide rotation depth.  They're looking for players with Major League experience to fill these roles, but on non-guaranteed contracts.
  • There is "little enthusiasm" for bringing back Brad Penny.  Strauss isn't sure Penny would be content with serving as an emergency starter out of the bullpen.
  • If the Cards sign a backup infielder, it will have to be an infielder who is "adroit" at third base in case David Freese can't handle the everyday job.  This seems to rule out a return to St. Louis for David Eckstein, but Strauss says Nick Punto "is a popular name within some quarters of the organization."  We haven't heard much about Punto since the Winter Meetings, where the former Twins infielder engaged in "meaningful negotiations" with Cleveland.
  • The Cardinals believe Mitchell Boggs and/or Jason Motte can develop into a solid closer, so there isn't much interest in Rafael Soriano.

Odds & Ends: Guerrier, McCutchen, Blue Jays, Punto

As the baseball world says goodbye to Cubs great Ron Santo, here are some news tidbits heading into the weekend…



Indians Notes: Colon, Encarnacion, Choo, Punto

The Indians have been quiet this offseason, but GM Chris Antonetti is making progress on potential moves, as MLB.com's Jordan Bastian and others report:

  • The Indians have some interest in bringing Bartolo Colon back to Cleveland, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes (on Twitter). The right-hander pitched for the Tribe from 1997-2002 and is back on the radar and attempting a comeback. He last pitched in the majors for the 2009 White Sox.  Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer disagrees, shooting down the idea on Twitter.
  • The Indians' interest in Edwin Encarnacion appears to have cooled, Bastian notes on Twitter.
  • The Indians will discuss the possibility of a Shin-Soo Choo extension with agent Scott Boras this offseason. I looked at Choo's case for an extension back in September.
  • Antonetti said the club could have interest in adding an infielder. They are interested in Adam Everett, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
  • The Tribe met a number of agents today, including the representatives for free agent infielder Nick Punto.
  • The Indians are close to signing former Rockies catcher Paul Phillips to a minor league contract.

Odds & Ends: Hardy, Punto, Dunn, Marlins, Lee

Some items to wrap up the week…


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. 


Odds & Ends: Twins, Izturis, Rangers, Yankees

Seven years ago today, Luis Castillo popped a ball up into the stands at Wrigley Field and a fan caught it, even though Moises Alou was right there. The Cubs were five outs away from clinching a World Series berth, but they ended up losing the 'Steve Bartman game' and the 2003 NLCS. Here are your links for Thursday…


Twins Rumors: Pavano, Cabrera, Punto

The Twins and Carl Pavano are both interested in making a deal, but it's unlikely we'll see anything finalized before Pavano hits the open market, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Twins have exclusive negotiating rights for now, but Pavano's likely to test the open market first.

The righty made $4.35MM this season, mostly by reaching performance incentives. This time, Pavano's agent suggests his client deserves more guaranteed money. Pavano has repeated that he enjoyed playing for the Twins after they acquired him from the Indians in August, so a return seems possible.

Pavano is a Type B free agent; the Twins will get a supplementary round pick if they offer arbitration only to see Pavano sign elsewhere.

Another Twins free agent, Orlando Cabrera, won't be playing shortstop next year, but manager Ron Gardenhire wants him back regardless. Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Gardenhire would like Cabrera at second base, J.J. Hardy at short and Nick Punto at third.


Twins Still Exploring Shortstop Options

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins are still exploring shortstop options despite signing Nick Punto.

Two of the team’s targets do not seem available – J.J. Hardy and Yunel Escobar.  The Braves were hard-pressed to discuss Escobar even when they thought they had Rafael Furcal, though the Twins inquired.  And Doug Melvin is sticking to his stance on Hardy.

We talked about other failed Twins infield pursuits yesterday.


Pirates Sign Ramon Vazquez

FRIDAY, 1:51pm: Kovacevic says the Vazquez signing is official at two years and $4MM.

THURSDAY, 11:37pm: Dejan Kovacevic says the Pirates have agreed to the framework of a contract with Vazquez.  The contract is not signed yet, and Vazquez needs to take a physical.  Another note: the Twins’ signing of Nick Punto reduces the already-weak market for Jack WilsonKovacevic says the Dodgers have leverage if they want to go after Wilson as a Rafael Furcal fallback.

12:32am: Vazquez’s agent told Kovacevic they’re "very, very close" but not done.  Neal Huntington also said it’s not done.

10:51am: Dejan Kovacevic phrases it as "trying to sign" Vazquez.

10:12am: According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Pirates are on the verge of a two-year, $4MM deal with infielder Ramon Vazquez.  Vazquez should be able to step in at either middle infield position if the Bucs manager to trade Freddy Sanchez or Jack Wilson.  He needs to sit against lefties though.