Nick Punto unsure about returning to Twins in 2011

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The Twins took care of a little paperwork on Friday, exercising outfielder Jason Kubel’s $5.25 million option for 2011 and declining a $5 million option on infielder Nick Punto.

Punto, 32, hit just .238/.313/.302 with only one home run and 11 doubles in 252 at-bats this past year while earning $4 million.  That stat line didn’t exactly deserve a raise, so the Twins cut him loose over a week before they had to and will allow him to test the free agent market.

It sounds like Punto is open to returning to the Twins in 2011 at a lesser salary and manager Ron Gardenhire does like his infield glove and versatility.  But it’s too early in the offseason to know for sure if he will be back.

“We’ll just see what develops from there,” Punto’s agent Jeff Caufield told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, shortly after learning that the option was declined.

The Phillies attempted to sign Punto back in 2008 before the Twins offered him a two-year contract with an option for 2011.  The Fightins might have interest again with an aging infield.

Mariners claim Dario Alvarez off waivers from Cubs

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Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners have claimed pitcher Dario Alvarez off waivers from the Cubs. The Mariners will option him to Triple-A Tacoma and have him report to minor league camp. Alvarez will serve as bullpen depth for the Mariners.

Alvarez, 29, has  spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Mets, Braves, and Rangers. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent in November. Across 48 innings of relief, the lefty owns a 5.06 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 22 walks. His spring with the Cubs wasn’t any better, as he yielded six runs on seven hits and six walks with 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.