Nick Punto Rumors

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.


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.