Nick Punto Rumors

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.


Twins Re-Sign Punto

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins re-signed infielder Nick Punto to a two-year, $8.5MM deal with an option for 2011.  Punto drew interest from the D’Backs, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, and Tigers at the Meetings.


D’Backs Rumors: Clark, Punto, Rhodes, Unit

8:10pm: Piecoro says the D’Backs don’t want to trade Snyder; in fact, they’d like to extend him.

Piecoro notes talks with Eddie Guardado, but they didn’t go far.  And Japanese lefty Ken Takahashi is not on Arizona’s radar.

7:20pm: The D’Backs have discussed a contract with Tony Clark for ’09, says Gilbert.

6:20pm: Rosenthal says the D’Backs want to trade the more pricey Snyder to clear a path for Montero.  They could then ink a Gregg Zaun type to back him up.

3:30pm: Gilbert says the D’Backs have a one-year offer out to Loretta.

3:18pm: MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert says the D’Backs have not resumed talks with Randy Johnson.

12:12pm: Piecoro says talks between the D’Backs and Mark Loretta have advanced in recent days.  They’ve made a "significant overture" according to Loretta’s agent.

2:26am: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has the latest on the Diamondbacks, in blog posts here and here.

  • Piecoro dissects the D’Backs’ thought process behind their decision not to offer arbitration to Type A free agent Adam Dunn.  He notes that their rumored two-year offer to Dunn was "more of an exploratory offer, nothing formal."  They’ll stay in touch with Dunn in case the market is not to his liking.
  • Free agent targets: Nick Punto, Arthur Rhodes, and the aforementioned Joe Beimel
  • Punto is one of many candidates for second base.  Ramon Vazquez was the top target, but he was two guaranteed years rather than one with an option.
  • Piecoro wonders if the D’Backs might now be able to scrape together another $3MM or so for Randy Johnson, given the Dunn draft pick savings and Brandon Lyon’s decision to decline arb.

Punto Visits With Phillies, Draws Yankee Interest

7:31pm: The Yankees are looking for a utility infielder, and Brian Cashman said today Punto is on their radar.

6:51pm: John R. Finger of Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia says Nick Punto visited with Phillies brass this afternoon.  They’ll meet again later today. Punto may return to the Twins, and he’s also been linked to the D’Backs and Mets.


Tigers Acquire Gerald Laird

1:21am: Morosi says the second pitching prospect is indeed Melo.

12:12am: Morosi says an agreement has been reached, and the second prospect is a pitcher.  There’s speculation that prospect could be Carlos Melo, as he fits Rosenthal’s description.

11:27pm: Ken Rosenthal says the Tigers acquired Laird for Moscoso and a second prospect.  The second prospect "is a 17-year-old who spent last season in the Dominican Summer League."  Could it be shortstops Samuel Ortiz or Domingo Gonzales?  Pitchers Rayni Guichardo or Carlos Melo?  The deal will be announced Monday.  Laird, a Scott Boras client, is under team control through 2010. 

Rosenthal adds that the Tigers are considering Adam Everett and Nick Punto as shortstop options.

9:26pm: According to Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, "The Tigers and Texas Rangers have made significant progress toward a trade that would send catcher Gerald Laird to Detroit and pitching prospect Guillermo Moscoso to the Rangers."  It’s not known whether the Tigers would include anyone else.

Baseball America ranks Moscoso tenth among Tigers prospects, noting shoulder woes but suggesting a high ceiling.  They say he could end up a #3 or #4 starter.  He’s drawn some comparisons to Jair Jurrjens.


Odds and Ends: Teahen, Mastny, Clement

Sunday evening links…I will add to this post as needed.


Phillies, Mets Interested In Punto

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Phillies and Mets have expressed interest in free agent infielder Nick Punto.  The Twins are also in contact.

Punto, 31, hit .284/.344/.382 in 377 plate appearances this year.  He seems to play an above average shortstop, according to the plus/minus system.  Punto is also capable of playing the other infield positions.  He earned $2.4MM in ’08.