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12/08/08 11:29 PM EST
Twins shift focus from Wilson to Punto
Club unwilling to part with prospects necessary for Bucs shortstop
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
LAS VEGAS -- The Twins are not interested in trading for Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, a team official said on Monday as the Winter Meetings kicked off at the Bellagio.
There were reports earlier in the day that the Twins might have some interest in Wilson. But it appears as if the Twins would rather try to re-sign Nick Punto to be their shortstop than give up the prospects it would take to obtain Wilson, whose 2009 salary is high enough to also limit the Twins' interest.
The Tigers, who considered trading for Wilson before coming to terms with Adam Everett on a one-year deal on Monday, were asked for two or three prospects in return for Wilson.
If they get the right package for Wilson, the Pirates do appear willing to take on some of his 2009 salary. Wilson is set to make $7.25 million next season and has an $8.4 million option for '10, with a $600,000 buyout. But even with the Pirates being willing to eat some of the money owed to Wilson, the Twins feel as if they might be better off looking at other options to fill their hole at shortstop -- including Punto.
Punto is in Las Vegas this week and his agent, Jeff Caulfield, is meeting with a number of teams who are interested in the infielder. That includes the Twins, with assistant general manager Rob Antony saying the club would meet with him this week.
Caulfield reportedly met with the Phillies on Monday and the Mets, the D-backs and the Yankees have also (reportedly) expressed interest in the infielder. The Mets view Punto as a shortstop option, while the Phillies and Diamondbacks are looking at him for second base. The Yankees are currently looking for a utility infielder and Punto would fit that role as he can play second, shortstop, third base and the outfield.
But while Punto said Monday that he's excited about the amount of interest in him, he admitted that it would be difficult for him to leave the Twins
"My heart is kind of still with Minnesota," Punto said. "If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. But I feel like that's my home and my foundation now. I've been there five years, that's a long time to spend with any team. Hopefully it all works out. I know my family loves it there. So we'll see."
Punto didn't want to get specifics as to what he's looking for in a contract, but he did acknowledge that he's already has offers on the table.
Due to the slow pace of the market this offseason, Punto said he's unsure just when he might sign with a team. But his hope is that he'll have a better idea of his situation by the end of the meetings this week.
"Slow, fast, it doesn't really matter," Punto said of when he signs. "The season is going to be here whether you sign tomorrow or four weeks from now. To me it doesn't matter when it works out. I'm just looking forward to the '09 season, wherever it may be."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.