Twins “will likely decline” $5 million option on Nick Punto

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Kelly Thesier of MLB.com writes that the Twins “will likely decline” their $5 million team option on Nick Punto for 2011.

Under normal circumstances not paying $5 million for a 33-year-old utility man who hit .238/.313/.302 this season and .247/.321/.322 for his career would be a no-brainer, but these circumstances aren’t normal.

After all, Minnesota has paid him $4 million in each of the past two years and … well, I just can’t see Ron Gardenhire letting his favorite diminutive, banjo-hitting, false-hustling infielder leave the organization without a fight.

Punto’s deal includes a $500,000 buyout of the option and my guess is the Twins will try to negotiate a new deal for around $2 million or so.

Steven Matz underwent season-ending surgery

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Steven Matz underwent season-ending surgery on his left elbow today. The procedure was to reposition a compressed nerve in his elbow.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66.2 innings. That line was, obviously, a function of the bum nerve in the bum elbow. Trouble aside, Matz is expected to be ready for Opening Day in 2018.

The Mariners Designate Leonys Martin for Assignment. Again.

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Back in April the Mariners designated outfielder Leonys Martin for assignment. He cleared waivers, accepted an assignment to Triple-A Tacoma and proceeded to hit .312/.352/.506 in 84 minor league games, leading to the Mariners calling him up on July 30.

In 19 games since then he’s hit a bit better than he did back in April, but not great: .230/.266/.426. So they just designated him for assignment again. The Rainers only have six more games this season, so he’s likely not going back there. Given that he’s arbitration eligible and the M’s are unlikely to tender him a contract, he’s likely to elect free agency once he clears waivers. Which he will, because he’s making nearly $5 million this year.

Odd year for Martin, who will likely be competing for a roster spot someplace next spring.