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.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.