October 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford (25) and shortstop Nick Punto (7) celebrate the 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland A's sign infielder Nick Punto to 1-year deal with club option

2013 was a good year for the Oakland A’s, and if Wednesday’s actions are any indication, they appear to be continuing in “win now” mode as 2014 approaches.

Jane Lee of MLB.com (now confirmed by multiple sources) is reporting that the A’s and free agent infielder Nick Punto have agreed on a 1-year contract with a 2015 team option. Later, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports brought the contract particulars to the table.

At first glance, Nick Punto being a $3 million player might be off-putting to some people (myself included), but I actually think that is about what he should receive in today’s open market. In 2013 with the Dodgers, the now 36-year-old infielder was worth 1.9 WAR according to FanGraphs, and while that was a 5-year high for Punto, he has routinely been a 1+ win player in recent seasons. His .255/.328/.327 slash line isn’t exactly fantastic, but he brings value in other places.

Punto’s biggest contribution to any team (Oakland included) is the versatility of his glove and positional flexibility. He can play above-average defense at at least 3 infield spots (3B, SS, 2B) and his career 10.3% walk rate makes him less than a disaster at the plate in a pinch.

It’ll be very interesting to see whether Punto “earns back” his $3 million deal in 2013, but because Oakland has the reported $250K buyout, it gives them flexibility moving forward. This is an organization that has been (mostly) above reproach in terms of this type of gamble in recent years, so they’ve earned the nod of approval.

Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers Nick Punto Oakland Athletics

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