Yankees Free Agent Target: Nick Punto

Elsa

Could Punto be a fit in 2014?

While everyone is focusing on big ticket free agents like Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann, the Yankees also need to focus on the little things, like backup infielder. Even if Alex Rodriguez is with the team and Derek Jeter is healthy enough to start the season, they're still going to need some kind of a backup plan because injuries are bound to happen. Nick Punto could fit that role with the 2014 Yankees.

He's a below-average switch-hitter with only one really good season coming in 2011. He pretty much hits one home run per year and, while he used to steal around 15 bases a year, that number has dropped considerably since 2010. He has a walk rate of 10.3%, though it dipped to 9.9% in 2013, and a 17% strikeout rate, which hit above 20% over the last two seasons.

Throughout his career, Punto has split time equally between second base, third base, and shortstop and he's been pretty good defensively at all three. He's more or less a bench player, though he did play over 100 games in 2013 and had a decent 90 wRC+. It's unlikely he'd want to be locked into a backup role behind Jeter and A-Rod, but there's a good chance he could play regularly in 2014.

He has made $1.5 million over the last two seasons, so he wouldn't cost much. He isn't necessarily a prolonged replacement in case Jeter or A-Rod go down for a long period of time, but he can fill in and give either one a day off. He's a better fielder than Jayson Nix and gets on base at a higher rate, though Nix is better against lefties and probably cheaper. Debating the merits of anyone over Jayson Nix probably means he's really not that great. Punto only really makes sense if the Yankees miss out on Brendan Ryan and decide that they hate Nix.

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