Twins retain Punto for $8.5M

Infielder Nick Punto reached terms Thursday on a two-year, $8.5-million US contract with the Minnesota Twins.

Nick Punto is staying put with the Minnesota Twins.

Punto, 31, reached terms Thursday on a two-year, $8.5-million US contract with the Twins.

He is guaranteed $2 million US in each of the next two seasons, with a chance to earn an additional $200,000 US in annual performance bonuses.

The Twins retained a $5-million US option for 2011 with a $500,000 US buyout.

"Nick has been an important part of the Twins success for the past five years," Twins general manager Bill Smith said.

Punto hit .284 with two home runs, 28 runs batted in, 43 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 99 games last season. 

The versatile infielder landed on the disabled list twice with hamstring problems, but he still managed to play shortstop 59 times and split 29 games between second and third base.

"He provides great defence up the middle and brings leadership and energy to our lineup," Smith said.

Punto is a lifetime .252 hitter with 11 HRs, 140 RBIs, 245 runs and 69 steals in 611 games over eight MLB seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and Twins.

With files from the Associated Press