Twins exercise Jason Kubel’s option, decline Nick Punto’s

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In a pair of expected moves, the Twins have exercised their $5.25 million option on Jason Kubel and declined their $5 million option on Nick Punto.

Kubel had a disappointing season, but hitting .249/.323/.427 in 143 games for career-lows in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, but bringing back the 28-year-old career .271/.335/.463 hitter never seemed in doubt.

Kubel is essentially a league-average corner outfielder or designated hitter offensively and brings little to the table on defense, so $5.25 million may be a slight overpay, but the Twins will be happy with the investment if he can return to pre-2009 levels.

For most teams declining Punto’s option would have been a no-brainer, because $5 million for a 33-year-old career .247/.321/.322 hitter who can’t seem to stay healthy is crazy, but manager Ron Gardenhire absolutely adores Punto and the Twins paid him $4 million in each of the past two seasons. Utility infielders like Punto are typically available every offseason for $1 million or so, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Twins bring him back at a lesser salary.

Yankees activate Giancarlo Stanton

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The New York Yankees have activated Giancarlo Stanton. He’ll be in the lineup in tonight’s game against the Rays.

Stanton has been on the injured list since April 1 due to a left biceps strain and a left shoulder strain sustained in what Aaron Boone called a “funky swing” at the time. He began a rehab assignment in late May, had it halted due to injury, and resumed it recently. He’s been swinging the bat well during his most recent stint, socking four homers in ten games.

That pop will be welcome. The Yankees have weathered Stanton’s injury — and injuries to Aaron Judge and scads of other players — but a team can’t defy gravity forever. At some point you need your established threats back. With Stanton coming back tonight, Judge coming back later this week and with the addition of Edwin Encarnación in that trade with Seattle, the Bombers should continue to hit bombs throughout the summer.