It sure didn't take long for Ben Cherington to replace Jed Lowrie. Hours after sending Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Houston for Mark Melancon, the Red Sox GM announced the signing of Nick Punto to a two-year deal. The contract guarantees Punto $3MM and offers him the chance to earn an additional $500K in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).
Punto spent the 2011 season with the Cardinals and played second, short and third. He had just 166 plate appearances, but posted a .278/.388/.421 line for a career-best .809 OPS. The switch-hitter's career batting line sits at .249/.325/.327, so he may not be able to replicate this year's offensive performance in 2012-13.
But in all likelihood, Cherington didn't add Punto for his bat. UZR suggests Punto is a strong defender at short, second and third. Overall, he has been an above-average defender in each season that he's logged significant MLB playing time. However, he's 34 and maintaining his historically strong defense may be unrealistic.