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Jeff Keppinger Rumors
MAY 21: The White Sox have requested unconditional release waivers for Keppinger, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.
Clearly, this is a disappointing outcome for the White Sox, who signed Keppinger to a three-year, $12MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. However, the versatile 34-year-old batted just .253/.283/.317 in 451 plate appearances last season and hasn’t played in the Majors this season as he’s been rehabbing from a shoulder operation performed last September.
Keppinger is just one full season removed from an excellent 2012 in which he batted .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances for the Rays. A career .282/.329/.384 hitter, Keppinger seems likely to draw interest from other teams if he is ultimately released. A trade or waiver claim both seem highly unlikely, given the roughly $7.5MM that Keppinger is owed through the 2015 season.
Earlier today, the White Sox made the tough decision to designate infielder Jeff Keppinger for assignment, despite the fact that his contract calls for a $4MM salary in 2014 and a $4.5MM salary in 2015. GM Rick Hahn spoke to reporters about the move (Twitter links to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin) about the decision: “We are focusing on the future as opposed to trying to justify a decision from the past. … [Keppinger’s signing] didn’t work. That’s on me.”
Here’s more from the American League:
- Versatile Rays infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist suffered a dislocated left thumb in today’s action, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (links to Twitter). A brief trip to the DL seems likely, though the injury does not appear to be a long-term concern. Through 177 plate appearances, Zobrist owned an effective (but low for his standards) .258/.352/.364 line with three home runs and three stolen bases. Discussing the struggling Tampa club in a piece for Grantland earlier today, Jonah Keri wrote that Zobrist, who is earning just $7MM this year, could potentially become a trade piece if the Rays cannot turn things around. His contract, long one of the most team-friendly in the game, includes a club option for next season at $7.5MM (with a $500K buyout).
- The Astros are still deliberating on when to call up first baseman Jon Singleton, per a report from Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter links). “We have seen the reaction the fans have to bringing up a prospect like [George Springer],” said Luhnow. “I would say Singleton is on deck.” While Singleton, 22, has mashed at Triple-A this year (.293/.401/.629 with 12 home runs in 167 plate appearances), Luhnow did not commit to a timeline. “I think he will play up here this year,” he said. “When, that remains to be seen.” Singleton entered the year as a consensus top-100 prospect. (MLB.com placed him 44th; ESPN.com’s Keith law ranked him 78th; and Baseball America put him at 82nd.)
- Former Twins pitcher Cole De Vries has officially retired, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN via Twitter. The 29-year-old righty threw to a 4.11 ERA in 87 2/3 innings (most of them as a starter) back in 2012, with 6.0 K/9 against just 1.8 BB/9. He was less successful last year, however, giving up 18 earned runs in just 15 frames. De Vries became a minor league free agent after the year, but said that he is trying his hand at commercial real estate rather than looking for another crack at the bigs.
We heard last week that the White Sox had begun to receive calls on their veteran players. Now, rival executives tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the ChiSox are "open for business" and willing to discuss anyone on their roster with the exception of Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
That means that even John Danks, who just last year signed a five-year, $65MM extension with the Sox, could be had in the right deal. The team also has desirable trade chips like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Thornton and Jake Peavy (though he's currently on the DL). Heyman also adds that Jeff Keppinger's name has already come up in conversations, despite the fact that he signed a three-year deal just this past offseason.
Not surprisingly, one executive told Heyman that Adam Dunn will be difficult to move. Dunn is owed $15MM in 2014 and is hitting .194/.303/.460 this season. Another said that Peavy will be tough to find a match for as well. The White Sox will have a high asking price on their co-ace, but teams won't have much time to determine if he's truly healthy.
Another executive told Heyman that the Mets could look at Ramirez as a potential long-term option at shortstop. While he's not hitting for power anymore, Ramirez is batting .280/.308/.345 with 18 stolen bases and outstanding defense, according to advanced metrics like UZR and DRS. He's owed $10MM in 2014 and has a $10MM club option for 2015 on his contract as well.
Jeff Keppinger greatly improved his stock in 2012, going from a non-tender a year ago to a three-year, $12MM contract that the White Sox announced today. A break in Keppinger's right fibula suffered last month didn't deter his suitors, which also included the Yankees, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Cubs.
Keppinger, who is represented by CSE, scored the first multiyear deal of his career and a larger guarantee than Maicer Izturis received from Toronto. He will earn $3.5MM in 2013, $4MM in 2014 and $4.5MM in 2015 under the terms of the three-year contract.
Keppinger, 32, is a career .288/.337/.396 hitter, and is coming off an excellent season with the Rays in which he posted an .806 OPS in 418 plate appearances. He spent time at first base, second base, and third base in Tampa Bay last year. Keppinger, who rarely strikes out, figures to see ample playing time at third base for Chicago.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the agreement, with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports adding the dollar amount.
- The Rays pursued right fielder Nate Schierholtz to the end and finished a close second, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Schierholtz ultimately signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Cubs.
- "There's a few potential outcomes that are really exciting to us and we're going to work toward trying to make them materialize," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times earlier today.
- The Yankees never made offers to Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez, tweets Jack Curry of YES Network.
- Scott Boras questioned the Yankees' choice to reduce payroll, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Responded president Randy Levine, "Scott’s a great agent, but he’s an agent. Last I looked, he had zero experience running a professional sports team. I think the Yankees have done pretty well following our own course. My advice to Scott is stick to your day job representing players."
The Winter Meetings rumors continue to fly in, so let's round up another batch of them….
- The Rockies have told reps for free agents that they're attempting to acquire a pitcher via trade, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado would also like to bring back Jeff Francis on a minor league deal, tweets Renck.
- Although he indicated last night that Emilio Bonifacio could be available, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets today that the Blue Jays don't want to move him, "at least not yet."
- Darren Oliver remains undecided about whether he'll play in 2013, and hasn't requested a trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have exercised their '13 team option on the left-hander.
- The Astros are planning to take two players in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- The Mariners remain in play for virtually every available hitter, tweets Knobler. Among their targets is Raul Ibanez, who the M's are "pushing" for, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Ibanez would prefer to rejoin the Yankees, but New York hasn't been as aggressive as Seattle, tweets Sherman.
- According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Yankees bid higher than the White Sox for Jeff Keppinger, but the utility infielder chose Chicago.
- In addition to Keppinger, the White Sox plan to bring in another infielder and a catcher, assuming A.J. Pierzynski leaves, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
A few of the latest updates from Nashville relating to National League clubs:
- The Padres figure to be seeking just one more starting pitcher, says MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).
- Although the Nationals' starting rotation is set, the team may still look to add pitching depth, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Before Eric Chavez agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks, he had spoken to the White Sox, while Jeff Keppinger, who signed with the Sox, was coveted by the Marlins, says Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter links).
- The signing of Chavez gives the D-Backs one too many infield bench options, and a team source says someone is likely to be traded, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Piecoro names John McDonald as the possible odd man out.
- The Mets may leave Nashville having only finalized the David Wright extension, says Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. One Mets official tells Rubin that teams are asking for Zack Wheeler in virtually every trade proposal, even for platoon-type catchers, which isn't happening (Twitter links).
As the third day of the 2012 Winter Meetings gets underway, let's round up a few items out of the AL East…
- Keppinger was the Yankees' first choice as the right-handed part of a third base platoon, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. With Keppinger signing with Chicago, the Yankees are forced to move on to Plan B.
- Teams that have spoken to the Rays have come away thinking Tampa Bay is more likely to move James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson than David Price, says Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
- With Darren Oliver still uncommitted to returning for the 2013 season, the Blue Jays continue to seek bullpen help, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- The Yankees are one of six teams vying for Jeff Keppinger's services, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Although we heard overnight that Keppinger could receive a three-year deal worth around $4MM annually, Sherman suggests that something in the two-year, $10MM range could work too
- Within the same column, Sherman writes that he's receiving "strong indications" the Yankees don't intend to pursue A.J. Pierzynski
- The Red Sox and Phillies haven't engaged in talks for Jacoby Ellsbury, a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link)
- Despite agreeing to three-year deals for Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino already this week, the Red Sox still have plenty of room to spend, says Alex Speier of WEEI.com
- WEEI.com's Kirk Minihane believes the Victorino signing was a mistake by the Red Sox
- The Orioles met with Nick Swisher's agent in Nashville, and Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if there's a fit there.
- The Red Sox announced that they've signed 26-year-old right-hander Anthony Carter to a minor league deal, writes Speier at WEEI.com.
Earlier today, we heard from Joel Sherman of the New York Post that there are six teams, including the Yankees, in the mix for Jeff Keppinger. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter), another one of those six clubs is the White Sox, who are eyeing Keppinger as a possible third base option.
Based on reports from yesterday and this morning, the cost to land Keppinger might be in the range of $13MM for three years. If the 32-year-old is willing to accept a two-year deal, something in the neighborhood of $10MM could get it done.
Wednesday: The Yankees "really want" Keppinger, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, who reports that Keppinger could get three years and at least $13MM or more (Twitter link).
Tuesday, 5:47pm: Keppinger is said to be looking for around $12MM over three years, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
2:30pm: The bidding for Keppinger is in the neighborhood of $8MM for two years, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
12:58pm: The Yankees have very strong interest in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan. The team met with his agent yesterday, as Alex Rodriguez's injury has accelerated their timetable. Keppinger is recovering from a significant injury in his own right, a broken fibula, but it hasn't seemed to affect free agent interest much.