Originally posted on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 12/15/11



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The Red Sox have signed veteran utilityman Nick Punto to a two-year contract, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

Heyman reported Punto, who turned 34 in November, is guaranteed $3 million with another $500,000 possible in incentives. The Red Sox had a vacancy for a utility player with this morning's trade of Jed Lowrie to the Astros.

Punto played 66 games for the champion Cardinals last year, hitting .278 with an .809 OPS in 166 plate appearances. He played 45 games at second base while also seeing time at shortstop and third base.

During his 11-year career, Punto has played for the Phillies (2001-03), Twins (2004-10) and Cardinals. A lifetime .249 hitter with a .652 OPS and 14 home runs in 887 career games. 

Globe:Sox sign Nick Punto

This signing makes the Melancon trade much more understandable. Seeing Jed Lowrie in this trade was a bit of a shock considering that the Red Sox balked at the thought of adding him in a bigger deal. Lowrie is a good bat, particularly against right-handed batters, but he just couldn't stay healthy. Punto isn't coming to replace Lowrie's bat, as he's a career .249 hitter, but he is a solid defender at second base, shortstop, and third base.

Lowrie still has a chance to put it all together in Houston and become a .300 hitter and maybe even have 20 home runs. I hope he does too. He was never going to get a legitmate shot at shortstop here in Boston as Scu-Scu-Scutaro was one of the few people that had a good September (.387 BA, 21 RBI) and Jose Iglesias has been poised to take it after Scutaro's contract runs out. This avoids the inevitable "Lowrie wants more playing time" article that would've come out in June, an issue the Sox don't need to deal with.

Punto will give the Sox the supersub they have been missing since they let Alex Cora go. He knows his role and is just fine waiting on the bench until his name gets called. Plus he's supposed to be a good clubhouse guy, and lord knows we need a few of those right about now.

So Lowrie gets his chance to play, the Sox replace him with the utility player they sorely needed. Everybody wins.

Rest of the links: Globe:Sox acquire Melancon from Astros for Lowrie, Weiland|Sox sign Nick Punto|Herald:Sox find relief in Melancon|Red Sox deal signals change|Punto fields a contract|CSNNE:Swing and a miss|Sox sign Punto to replace Lowrie|Varitek, Wakefield to Cubs?|WEEI:Mills on Melancon: has the stuff to close in AL East|Sox sign Punto to two year, $3 million deal

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