12:10pm: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that it’s a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp (Twitter link).
Punto, who turned 37 in November, hit just .207/.296/.293 in 224 plate appearances for the Athletics last season after signing a one-year, $2.75MM contract. Nonetheless, Punto received enough playing time in Oakland and stayed healthy enough that he had a $2.75MM option vest for the 2015 season. However, Oakland ultimately elected to release Punto in December when they needed to clear a 40-man roster spot. He’ll still be paid the $2.75MM from the A’s, but it’s unclear at this time if his contract is a Major League or minor legaue deal.
Though Punto has never hit much outside of a solid 2006 season with Minnesota and a small sample of 166 plate appearances with the 2011 Cardinals, he’s historically been a very capable defender at second base, third base and shortstop. His defense has slipped a bit as he’s aged, but the switch-hitter is likely still capable of backing up the D-Backs at three infield spots. Of course, the same could be said about the much younger Cliff Pennington. It’s possible that the D-Backs will look to flip Pennington and his $3.275MM salary to a team with an infield need, but Punto could also merely be a depth piece that will come to camp and compete for a job.