Jeff Keppinger Rumors
Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:
- Sources tell FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal the Reds like Dexter Fowler and the Rockies like Homer Bailey. Now the question is whether their mutual interest crystallizes into trade discussions during the Winter Meetings.
- The Brewers are prioritizing a left-handed reliever with the available free agent possibilities including Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny, tweets Morosi.
- Cubs officials have yet to confirm or comment on reports of their signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. The Cubs, however, are willing to talk about their need for a third baseman, an outfielder, and pitching depth. Muskat adds the Cubs could re-sign third baseman Ian Stewart after non-tendering him on Friday.
- The White Sox and Phillies are the two most aggressive teams in pursuit of a third baseman, a source tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Kevin Youkilis is the object of both team's pursuit. Hayes writes the Sox may have to move another high salary in order to afford Youkilis and floats the names of Jeff Keppinger, Mark Reynolds, and Eric Chavez as alternatives.
- The Pirates feel they are better equipped to restock their bullpen, despite the free agency of Jason Grilli and the recent trade of Chris Resop, and may be interested in turning closer Joel Hanrahan into a much needed starting pitcher, according to MLB.com's Tom Singer.
- The Twins plan to focus more on free agents than trades during the Winter Meetings, tweets Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. The Twins have already dealt their best trade chip in Denard Span and plan on keeping Josh Willingham, writes Mackey in a separate piece.
The latest links from around MLB...
- The Cubs, Diamondbacks and Rays are bidding for free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger even though he broke his leg, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). The 32-year-old recently broke his right fibula, but hopes to be ready for action by mid-January. Clubs don’t consider the injury serious enough to stop pursuing Keppinger.
- MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons said on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch spoke with agent Scott Boras about free agent closer Rafael Soriano yesterday (hat tip: Ken Rosenthal on Twitter).
- The Dodgers confirmed the promotions of several front office members, including Logan White and De Jon Watson, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. White and Watson had been assistant GMs and are now vice presidents. They are both considered GM candidates within the industry.
- The Orioles aren’t expected to offer Mark Reynolds arbitration, but they’re trying to work out a new deal by Friday’s deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently examined Reynolds as a non-tender candidate.
- Jair Jurrjens is expected to be non-tendered and Peter Moylan’s status as a non-tender candidate remains unclear, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter).
Free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger enjoyed a career year in 2012, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the 32-year-old recently suffered a broken right fibula after tripping down a flight of stairs at his home.
Doctors have described the break as "small," and Keppinger has already undergone surgery to repair the leg. He is hoping to be healthy by mid-January and doesn't expect to be limited come Spring Training. Interested parties have begun looking over his medical reports, according to Heyman.
Keppinger batted .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances for the Rays in 2012, and was particularly devastating to left-handed pitchers. He saw extensive time at first base, second base and third base during his time in Tampa Bay and also has significant Major League experience at shortstop, though not since 2008 with the Reds.
This is the second injury to his right side that Keppinger has endured in the past seven months. Back in May, he broke the big toe on his right foot when a foul ball struck him as he sat in the dugout. That injury resulted in more than a month on the disabled list.
Keppinger has been linked to the Yankees and Diamondbacks thus far, and Heyman reports that as many as six other teams are interested as well. Keppinger may still land a multi-year commitment because of a thin infield market, but I think it's fair to assume that his suitors prefer to wait until he's completely healthy to determine what type of offer they'll make.
The Yankees have "renewed (their) longstanding interest" in free agent utility man Jeff Keppinger, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. People within the industry think the team may be laying groundwork to use Alex Rodriguez as the primary DH as soon as 2013, which GM Brian Cashman refuted.
"There is no discussion whatsoever about Alex transitioning from third base to DH, part-time DH, first base or any other position on the field," said Cashman. "As we approach anyone in the free-agent market or anyone in trades, we’re making sure we have insurance policies, (asking) our what-ifs?"
Keppinger, 32, hit .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances for the Rays this season while playing primary second and third bases. The Yankees tried to acquire him from the Astros two winters ago. Rosenthal says New York has not spoken to the Tigers about Jhonny Peralta as they look for utility infield help, though they reportedly have interest in free agent Stephen Drew.
Rodriguez, 37, hit .272/.353/.430 with 18 homers in 529 plate appearances last season. He missed more than a month with a broken bone in his hand after getting hit by a pitch. Derek Jeter is currently rehabbing from a fractured left ankle and the team expects to be ready in time for Opening Day. The Yankees are still seeking infield depth just in case either veteran continues to fight the injury bug.
Here's the latest out of Arizona...
- The D'Backs are interested in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Keppinger hit .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances with the Rays in 2012 and has a career .864 OPS against left-handed pitching. Arizona would presumably use Keppinger at third base, though the veteran has played all over the infield in his career.
- In another post from Piecoro, he says the Diamondbacks would use Jhonny Peralta as a third baseman if they acquired him from the Tigers. Peralta primarily served as the Indians' third baseman in 2009 and 2010, though he hasn't played at the hot corner since and has a below-average (a -3.1 UZR/150) glove at the position.
- While the D'Backs were one of the teams who met with free agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa, the Snakes don't "appear to be as interested" in Fujikawa as they were before acquiring Heath Bell from the Marlins, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
Jeff Keppinger can play multiple positions and he’s a difference maker on offense -- at least against left-handed pitching. The combination will attract the interest of many teams when he hits free agency this coming offseason.
When the Rays signed Keppinger to a one-year, $1.525MM deal in January, they expected him to be a tough out, especially against left-handed pitching. The 32-year-old has thrived with Tampa Bay posting a .329/.376/.445 batting line in 320 plate appearances. He also has nearly as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) thanks in part to a 93.2% contact rate that ranks third among MLB players with at least 300 trips to the plate.
Keppinger has been particularly effective against lefties, as his .411/.437/.558 batting line against them shows (103 plate appearances). This performance isn’t unexpected, either. Keppinger, a right-handed hitter, has a career line of .336/.380/.491 against left-handers.
Teams will also take note of Keppinger’s versatility when he hits free agency this offseason. He has appeared in 15 or more games at first base, second base and third base in 2012, playing mostly at the hot corner. He has previous experience at shortstop, though none since 2010. The mixture of versatility and offense has been worth two wins above replacement in 2012, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.
The ability to hit left-handed pitching doesn’t always translate into substantial free agent contracts, as noted lefty mashers Jonny Gomes (one-year, $1MM), Andruw Jones (one-year, $2MM) and Scott Hairston (one-year, $1.1MM) discovered last offseason. Similarly, veteran utility players usually sign for less than $5MM. Ramon Santiago, Nick Punto, Greg Dobbs, Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald obtained two-year deals worth $1.5-2MM per season last winter.
But few players offer the versatility to play multiple infield positions and the ability to produce against lefties. The combination could drive Keppinger’s asking price to the two-year, $10MM range. Aaron Hill, Clint Barmes and Mark Ellis signed contracts in that range a year ago, and those deals could represent a target for Keppinger’s representatives at CSE. Teams may hesitate to pay starter money for a so-called utility player and if that’s the case, the deals signed by Jerry Hairston Jr. (two years, $6MM) and Jamey Carroll (two years, $6.75MM) could provide an alternate template for Keppinger.
He definitely appears to be in line for a considerable raise and he has a good shot at a multiyear deal. It’s a notable shift in value for a player who was non-tendered by the Giants just nine months ago.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Joe DiMaggio hit the first of his 361 career home runs against the Athletics on this date in 1936. The present-day Yankees and C.C. Sabathia host David Price and the Rays tonight in New York. Here are some AL East-related links in the meantime...
- The Orioles signed Miguel Tejada with the idea that he might replace Mark Reynolds at third base, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. Reynolds’ bat is starting to heat up and Tejada is playing at extended Spring Training. The Orioles made Reynolds available earlier this year, but potential suitors found his $7.5MM salary to be a deterrent.
- Jeff Keppinger is back with the Rays following a brief stint on the restricted list, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). The Rays had placed the infielder on the restricted list earlier in the week.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post describes Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera as "competition junkies" who can't stay away from the game of baseball and the "camaraderie, common purpose, money and fame" that comes with Major League success. Rivera's contract will expire after the 2012 season, but he has said he intends to return, presumably with the Yankees.
- In case you missed it, the Blue Jays signed Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league deal today.
The weather is now cooperating in the Bronx as the Rays looks to put an end to their three-game skid tonight against the Yankees. Here's a look at Tampa Bay and other items out of the American League East..
- If called up to the majors, Hideki Matsui will make a salary of about $900K, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Last season, the veteran earned $4.25MM with Oakland, the previous low of his career. In the meantime, Matsui will earn $10K a month with Triple-A Durham.
- Jeff Keppinger's absence from the Rays and placement on the restricted list is related to his ongoing divorce case, writes Topkin. Keppinger's case is set to go before a judge on May 29th when the Rays are at home facing the White Sox. Within the Matsui article, Topkin notes that the infielder could still get paid for missed games with MLB approval.
- While some have speculated that the Yankees could look to fortify the backend of their bullpen with an out-of-house addition, Mariano Rivera likes what he has seen out of David Robertson, writes Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
The Rays placed infielder Jeff Keppinger on the restricted list due to a personal matter following last night’s game, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. The Rays called up outfielder Brandon Guyer in a corresponding move and indicated that Keppinger’s absence will be a short one.
The Rays signed Keppinger to a one-year, $1.25MM contract in January. The 32-year-old has a .313/.338/.453 batting line in 68 plate appearances as a second and third baseman in Tampa Bay. Players on the restricted list do not count toward a team's 25-man or 40-man roster. They do not accrue service time and they don't always get paid.
Jeff Keppinger has signed a one-year Major League deal with the Rays, the team announced. The CSE client will earn $1.525MM in 2012, the Tampa Tribune tweets. Executive VP Andrew Friedman explained why Keppinger’s a fit via team press release.
“He is a tough out, especially against left-handers, and his contact skills bring a useful dimension to our roster,” Friedman said. “We also value his defensive versatility, which will allow him to make an impact in many different ways."
Keppinger posted a .277/.300/.377 line in 399 plate appearances for the Astros and Giants in 2011. The 31-year-old only played second base last year, but he has started 80-plus games at shortstop and third base in his seven-year career. Keppinger earned $2.3MM last year and would have obtained a raise through arbitration, so the Giants non-tendered him in December, holding onto Mike Fontenot instead.