Nick Punto

The end of an era in Minnesota

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Hey, it doesn’t have to be a great era. An era is an era, and that counts even for the Twins’ Nick Punto:

No Twins offseason would be complete without a Nick Punto discussion.

Some of us were convinced he would be the final puzzle piece, as General Manager Bill Smith assembled the spring training roster. Punto is still a free agent, but from all indications, the Twins won’t be bringing him back.

Gleeman and I chat all day and often I’ll ping him with something like “Hey — I’m making a joke — give me the name of some random weak hitter who is inexplicably esteemed by many so I can use him in the punchline.” His response is almost always “Punto — but maybe that’s too obvious.”

Punto was useful the couple of times his average was high, but he is a career .247/.321/.322 hitting utility infielder — albeit an overused one — who has made $4 million a year recently.  That’s a guy you cut bait on a long time ago in favor of a veteran who will take a minor league deal and maybe make a million bucks, max. It took the Twins a couple of years to figure that out, but now they have.

Fare thee well, Nick.

Diamondbacks sign Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million deal

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Jeff Mathis #6 of the Miami Marlins hits a grand slam during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.

Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.

The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.

Jimmy Rollins wants to play in 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 10:  Jimmy Rollins #7 of the Chicago White Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 10, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.

Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.

Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.