Punto Avoids Arbitration

The Twins signed their second of three arbitration players on Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year deal with infielder Nick Punto. Punto, who appeared in 112 games for the Twins in 2005, will head to Spring Training to fight for a spot on the Opening Day roster. The 28-year old set career highs in nearly every offensive category in 2005, and now the Twins only have Kyle Lohse to deal with.

Nick Punto signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration. The utility infielder batted .239 for the Twins during the 2005 season, as he appeared in 112 games. He finished the season tied for second on the club in stolen bases, with 13, and set career-highs in virtually every offensive category.

The 28-year old infielder began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, and came over to Minnesota in the Eric Milton trade with Carlos Silva. He is a career .238 hitter over parts of five seasons, and has seven career long balls. He will serve as a backup to Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo, and Tony Batista next season, if he makes the team's opening day roster

He is the second player in the past week who has avoided arbitration, with Michael Cuddyer being the other signee. With a crowded infield already, Punto could rely on his ability to play the outfield in order to secure a roster spot. Minor Leaguer Luis Maza is waiting in the wings, should a roster spot open up.

The Twins will now turn their focus to Kyle Lohse, who is their only other remaining arbitration player. Arbitration hearings run from February 1-21, and teams have until then to strike a deal with the player. General Manager Terry Ryan is confident a deal could be struck with Lohse as soon as this week.

If the Twins can nail down Lohse, it would seem that their Spring Training roster is set.

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