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.