No more Shredder, no more head-first dives into first base, no more carpool buddies?
Sad but true, the Dodgers on Wednesday unexpectedly lost their first free agent of the off-season when the Oakland A’s announced they had signed versatile infielder Nick Punto to a one-year deal.
The "Nick Punto trade," which also netted the Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, with the Red Sox in the summer of 2012 helped turn the Dodgers around.
Punto proved a reliable glove at third, shortstop and second base for the Dodgers, was terrific in the clubhouse and hit .255 with 21 RBIs in 294 at-bats. Fifteen of his 75 hits were doubles, and two were homers, so that means he only dove into first 58 times.
Punto, who turned 36 on Friday, agreed to a one-year deal for $2.75 million, which included a $250,000 buyout for the same salary in 2015, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo sports.
Punto made $1.5 million last season, so he essentially doubled his salary.
The speed with which Punto signed elsewhere is somewhat surprising, because the Dodgers appeared interested in bringing him back and he lived in south Orange County, where he carpooled to Dodger Stadium with Skip Schumaker.
Losing Punto likely enhances the Dodgers’ desire to re-sign the versatile Schumaker. They are not expected to bring back fellow utility player Jerry Hairston Jr.
Punto brought a lively but veteran experience to the Dodgers clubhouse. He was also the one who started ripping off -- or shredding -- a teammate’s jersey after a walk-off hit.
Last season, Punto appeared in 49 games at shortstop, 35 at third and 33 at second base.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times