OAKLAND -- The A's added depth to the infield Wednesday with the signing of veteran utility man Nick Punto to a one-year contract worth $2.75 million with a $250,000 buyout on an option for 2015.

Punto, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013, is no threat to take playing time from third baseman Josh Donaldson or shortstop Jed Lowrie. But Punto could be in the mix at second with Alberto Callaspo and Eric Sogard, although it's not likely that all will be on Oakland's roster to start the 2014 season.

Punto, 36, is a switch-hitter who is revered around baseball for his willingness to go head-first into any base -- including first -- to help his team.

The Oakland A’s have agreed to a one-year deal with Nick Punto, shown as a Los Angeles Dodger at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, May
The Oakland A's have agreed to a one-year deal with Nick Punto, shown as a Los Angeles Dodger at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, May 3, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

"Yeah, the head-first slide," A's assistant general manager David Forst said Wednesday. "We'll probably lead the league in head-firsts at first base. Actually, I'd like him to do it a little bit less.''

When he heard that, Punto chuckled.

"Diving into first base, that's definitely not something I think about when I hit a ball," Punto said from his Southern California home Wednesday. "But it's part of the way I play."

Punto is one of those hard-charging players who tends to maximize his talents playing the game. At 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, he doesn't have a lot of power -- two homers last season -- and it took him until the fifth of his 13 big-league seasons to get more than a quick look.

He's a career .248 hitter who averaged .255 last year with Los Angeles. He begins more games on the bench than in the starting lineup, but his ability to play above-average defense at three positions -- second, third and short -- and switch-hit has allowed him to play two-thirds of his team's games in the last decade.

There seems to be a reasonable chance that Punto will free up the A's to trade Callaspo, another switch-hitting infielder whose defense isn't as good and who doesn't play short.

More than anything, the A's picked up Punto because has a tendency to make a good team better. He did it with the Dodgers in 2013, he did it for years with the Twins, and he won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2011.

Punto sees some of that ring potential in the A's.

"This is a team that fits the way I play," Punto said. "I won a World Series with the Cardinals, and now I'm trying to find a way to win another one. You watch this team from the other side and they play hard, they play right, and they have good young pitching and a terrific manager.

"Bob Melvin being a great manager was a huge influence in my wanting to come here. His teams always play so hard; you have to love watching them play. Watching on TV and again in the playoffs this year, I saw those young pitchers. They have young, talented arms. I'm hoping to add what I have to that clubhouse."

Part of what he adds is a player others rally around. He's called "Shredder" for celebrating ninth-inning and extra-inning wins by tearing the jersey off that day's hero and shredding it.

"The shredding, that's never a planned thing," Punto said. "And every time I do it, it can cost me a little. Those shredded jerseys are $150 a pop."