Red Sox sign Nick Punto for two years and $3.5 million

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This morning the Red Sox traded infielder Jed Lowrie to the Astros in a deal for reliever Mark Melancon and it didn’t take them long to replace him, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that Boston has signed Nick Punto to a two-year, $3.5 million contract.

Punto was paid just $750,000 by the Cardinals and making a two-year commitment to a 34-year-old utility man with a .652 career OPS seems excessive, but he hit well in 63 games for St. Louis this season and is a standout defender at second base, third base, and shortstop.

For years Punto was overmatched as a regular in Minnesota, but as a utility man he’s an excellent fit even if the Red Sox paid a premium for a role player. Hopefully the Fenway Park crowd likes head-first slides.