What Does The Nick Punto Signing Mean For The A’s Infield?
The Oakland A’s signed versatile infielder Nick Punto to a one-year, $2.75M deal on Wednesday. The contract will run through 2014 and includes a vesting option for 2015. Punto, 36, spent the 2013 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing a role on manager Don Mattingly‘s bench and filling in for frequently-injured shortstop Hanley Ramirez on a number of occasions.
In 116 games for Los Angeles, Punto posted a slash line of .255/.328/.327 while playing games at shortstop, second base and third base (committing a grand total of eight errors on the season).
One of the trademarks of the 2013 A’s was the word ‘depth’. All season long, Bob Melvin sent out a lineup that was heavily reliant on matchups. Platoons (such as the first base tandem of Brandon Moss and Nate Freiman) were the name of the game, so to speak.
What happens now that the switch-hitting Punto has been added into the mix? Will lefty second baseman Eric Sogard suddenly have to fight for playing time in 2014? Or does this move make Alberto Callaspo (another switch-hitting middle infielder with better career offensive numbers than Punto) potential trade fodder for G.M. Billy Beane?
As far as Punto is concerned, he’s just happy to have signed with a team that he thinks has a very bright immediate future. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser:
Nick Punto tells me he has a taste for going to the World Series after 2011 “and I feel Oakland has a chance to do it.” #Athletics
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) November 14, 2013
At this point, it’s hard to imagine the A’s heading into Spring Training with seven second base/third base options (Punto, Jed Lowrie, Sogard, Callaspo, Scott Sizemore, Jemile Weeks and Hiroyuki Nakajima) all fighting for a few roster spots. That is to say, all signs point to Beane and the A’s having another signature busy offseason.