Veteran infielder Nick Punto has decided to officially retire, he announced last night on Dodgers Talk with David Vassegh (audio link). Punto signed a minor league deal with the D-backs last offseason but had a change of heart and backed out of the deal and sat out the 2015 season due to a desire to spend more time with his family. While Arizona manager Chip Hale stressed at the time that Punto was not retiring, it seems that the versatile utility man has now elected to formally conclude his playing career after spending parts of 14 seasons in the Majors.
The 38-year-old Punto was originally a 21st-round pick of the Phillies back in 1998 and saw limited action in Philly from 2001-03 before being packaged alongside Carlos Silva and Bobby Korecky to acquire lefty Eric Milton from the Twins. Punto served as a utility option for the Twins in 2004-05 before spending much of the 2006 season as Minnesota’s everyday third baseman and batting .290/.352/.373 with brilliant defense in what was the best all-around season of his career. Punto helped propel the Twins to a postseason berth that year — one of four trips to the playoffs he had with that organization — but it wasn’t until his 2011 campaign with the Cardinals that Punto was able to reach a World Series and experience the feeling of capturing a World Series title.
Punto’s overall offensive contributions in his Major League career were modest, at best, as he’ll retire with a .245/.323/.323 batting line in 3734 plate appearances between the Phillies, Twins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers and Athletics. However, Punto was a brilliant defender at three different positions: third base (+40 Defensive Runs Saved, +20.6 UZR/150 in his career), shortstop (+21 DRS, +17.4 UZR/150) and second base (+21 DRS, +5.7 UZR/150). Punto brought plenty of speed to the table, as evidenced by his 104 career steals, and he was known for his competitive nature and hard-nosed style of play, which earned him his nickname: “The Shredder.” That attitude and his brilliant defense helped Punto to earn more than $23MM in his playing career, per Baseball-Reference. We at MLBTR wish Punto and his family continued success and happiness in his post-playing endeavors.