The Oakland Athletics signed their first free-agent of the offseason on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with infielder Nick Punto on a one-year deal that includes a vesting option for 2015.
The San Jose Mercury News reported the signing on Wednesday.
Punto spent 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting .255/.328/.327 in 335 plate appearances with two homers and 21 RBI. Punto is a versatile, slick-fielding infielder who started 33 games at shortstop, 17 at third base and 21 at second base for Los Angeles.
He’s a 13-year veteran who debuted in 2001 with the Philadelphia Phillies and has also played for the Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.
He was a member of the Cardinals World Series championship club in 2011 and went to the Dodgers as part of the enormous August 2012 trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles for James Loney and a plethora of prospects.
In the playoffs last season, Punto played in six games and was 2-for-6 with a double.
Punto is a lifetime .248/.325/.325 hitter with just 17 career homers, so he’s obviously not coming to Oakland as the big bat the A’s are reportedly seeking.
But he does give the A’s a glut of infielders, along with Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo and Jed Lowrie, meaning there could be more to the rumors we talked about on Tuesday involving a possible trade between the A’s and Cardinals involving Lowrie.
At worst, he gives the A’s a reason not to rush prospect Addison Russell to the show.