FINALLY!!! Some breaking Twins news to share in the off-season!!!
The Twins made a pair of moves today that were not surprising to say the least. They picked up Jason Kubel's $5.25 million dollar option and declined their $5 million option for Nick Punto.
Kubel's option was a very easy decision for the Twins. At $5.25 million he is a relatively cheap option for either DH or outfield. He is a career .271 hitter that can bat for power. Over the past two seasons he has been slightly above and slightly below the 100 RBI mark. The one thing that Kubel needs to cut back on our his strike out totals. If he can decrease the strikeouts and increase his batting average this will be an above average deal for the Twins.
Declining Punto's option might have been an easier decision than picking up Kubel's option. When Nick Punto signed his current contract the Twins paid him with the thought that he would be an everyday player for the Twins. This hasn't been the case for Punto with the emergence of Danny Valencia and other players. Injuries plagued his 2010 campaign and he is no longer a spring chicken. He is a career .247 hitter that only played in 88 games last season. The Twins had to pay Punto $500,000 to buy out his contract and make him a free-agent.
From multiple reports on the internet, it sounds like the Twins might try and bring Punto back to fill a utility infielder role. If this were to happen his contract would most likely be in the $1-$1.5 million range. This type of contract could also include some incentives to pay him a higher salary if he becomes an everyday player over the course of the season. This could be done by giving him more money based on the number of plate apperances that he receives.
Ron Gardenhire loves having Punto's glove in the field. There are also question marks at secondbase and possibly shortstop for the Twins, so Punto could win one of those starting spots out of Spring Training. Don't be surprised to see Punto back with the Twins in 2011.