Punto packs his bags



Posted: January 21, 2011 3:55 p.m. CT

Nick Punto will not be returning to the Twins this season. Punto, 33, has signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to the Cardinals’ website.

Punto, who entered free agency this offseason, had reportedly stated previously that he would prefer to stay with the only organization he’s ever played for in the big leagues. 

But with Minnesota re-signing free agents Jim Thome and Carl Pavano, and arbitration raises due to several players (notably Francisco Liriano, Delmon Young, and Kevin Slowey), it became clear that the utility infielder would not be in the Twins plans going forward.

Punto wasted no time thanking Twins fans. After the contract was announced Friday, Punto posted a message on his Twitter account: “It’s been great Twins Fans! I’ll still be working hard, making the Cardinals a better team. Maybe see you in October! So long, I’m out.”

Twins General Manager Bill Smith told the Star Tribune that his team’s payroll (currently estimated around $113 million) is near the top end of where it can be this year. Punto