By the time the Twins acquired Punto, he apparently already had 1 season plus 51 days service time, per B-Ref (he spent most of 2003 on the Phillies roster, plus cups of coffee in 2001 and 2002). So he had already made about $400k, was vested in the pension, and had lifetime healthcare -- he could afford to bet on himself a little bit.
With Hocking and Gomez gone, he probably figured he'd spend most of his first season in Minnesota too, so he could expect another $300k too. Another half season of service time on top of that and he'd get a raise through arbitration. And he had just turned 26 years old, so he probably didn't see himself near the end of the line -- if the Twins didn't want him, he'd probably get more MLB chances as a utility guy to collect more minimum salaries elsewhere.
The Phillies may have had a better chance at such a deal, a couple years earlier -- but a team even offering such a deal would be a strong clue to the player that he's valued enough to spend a few years in MLB even without signing the deal. I just can't see this working.
Yeah, I would never advocate for it.For every Punto there are 10 utility guys that either get a couple years or only a couple months. Like I said he had his two best seasons in contract years and used it to leverage more millions that he would otherwise be likely to make.His career turned out better than could possibly be predicted. His biggest attribute was being a piranha and all that entailed.My biggest knock on him was when he wasgiven the regular 3rd base spot and for some reason thought that meant he needed to try to hit more home runs and started swinging for the fences.Punto swinging for the fences annoyed me a lot.Anyway, yes my original post was a joke and I would not advocate paying long term contracts to utility guys just to buy out arb and FA years.