Jeff Keppinger Rumors


Rays Sign Jeff Keppinger

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.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) first reported the agreement after Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) reported that a deal was close.



Rays, Keppinger Closing In On Deal

The Rays are closing in on a Major League deal with infielder Jeff Keppinger, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The team will likely finalize an agreement with the CSE client by the end of the week.

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.



Rays Interested In Jeff Keppinger

The Rays have expressed interest in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets. The CSE client is still in contact with multiple clubs.

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. It wouldn't be a surprise to see clubs such as the Yankees and Mariners express interest in Keppinger.



National League Non-Tenders

Here are this year's National League non-tenders. You can also keep track of all teams with our non-tender tracker and check out our list of non-tender candidates:



Giants Won't Re-Sign Beltran Or Ross

The Giants won't re-sign Carlos Beltran or Cody Ross this winter, GM Brian Sabean told reporters, including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Manager Bruce Bochy hinted as much, after yesterday's Angel Pagan acquisition, saying the Giants seemed "pretty set" in the outfield, writes Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.

"Simply put," Sabean said. "With Ross, we could never get on the same page. And Beltran, we knew it was going to be a stretch."

Here are some other Sabean highlights from Shea and Baggarly:

  • The Giants' payroll is maxed out. They'll have to decide whether to tender a contract to Jeff Keppinger or Mike Fontenot, since they can only afford to retain one. With the help of Matt Swartz, MLBTR projected Fontenot to earn about half as much as Keppinger, so Fontenot may have the edge.
  • Guillermo Mota is choosing between two different payout structures, but both Giants offers are for one year with a big league guarantee.
  • No other roster moves are expected besides non-tenders and minor league signings.
  • If the Giants hadn't traded Ramon Ramirez, they would have tendered him a contract.



NL West Rumors: Ludwick, Gillick, Padres, Rockies

The latest on various NL West clubs...



Giants Notes: Pujols, Cain, Lincecum, Zito

Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy discussed the 2011 season at a year-in-review press conference today and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:

  • The Giants are going to focus on the pitching staff before addressing the offense this winter.
  • There are strong indications that the Giants won’t push for free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, according to Schulman.
  • Sabean won’t rule out a long-term deal for Tim Lincecum, but negotiations with Matt Cain will be a higher priority, since Cain is eligible for free agency one year from now. Lincecum appears to prefer short-term deals anyway.
  • Barry Zito and non-tender candidate Jonathan Sanchez will be in Spring Training competing for the rotation, according to Sabean. This is the strongest indication yet that Sanchez will be tendered a contract this offseason. His salary will likely surpass $6MM in 2012.
  • Sabean and Bochy said Aubrey Huff didn’t do enough to get in shape last offseason and they have told him to do more this winter.
  • The Giants have said they want to upgrade in center field and the leadoff spot. They don’t consider Justin Christian to be the solution, so Schulman wonders if Coco Crisp could be a fit.
  • If the Giants don’t pick up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option, they’ll renegotiate another deal with him. As I explained earlier in the month, Affeldt would be in position to command a multiyear deal in free agency if the Giants allow him to hit the open market.
  • The Giants will look to add second base depth, though they may not be willing to meet Jeff Keppinger’s asking price.
  • Sabean says the Giants will give Cody Ross "due consideration" as a free agent, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (on Twitter).



Giants Notes: Burrell, Ross, Sanchez, Whiteside

The 2011 Giants closely resembled last year’s World Championship team, but change lies ahead for San Francisco. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle explains that health considerations and the rising cost of arbitration eligible players will shape next year’s Giants team. Here are some highlights from Schulman's piece:

  • Pat Burrell could again sign a one-year deal when he hits free agency after the season (he earns $1MM this year), but he may have to retire because of a foot injury. Burrell says he’ll play as long as he’s healthy enough to take the field.
  • Schulman says it’s hard to imagine the Giants offering Cody Ross a raise from $6.3MM or agreeing to a multiyear deal when the outfielder hits free agency.
  • Mark DeRosa is hoping to sign closer to Atlanta, where he makes his home, and realizes he may be in line for a minor league deal.
  • The Giants will probably decline Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option for 2012, but they’ll “almost certainly” pursue him in free agency, according to Schulman.
  • Jonathan Sanchez and Andres Torres are non-tender candidates. When MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes identified Sanchez and Torres as non-tender candidates last month, he pointed out that Sanchez’s salary would rise over $6MM (he now earns $4.8MM) through arbitration. 
  • Eli Whiteside is another non-tender candidate, Schulman writes.
  • Jeff Keppinger, who’s arbitration eligible, will likely return in 2012 and it’s hard to imagine the Giants cutting Nate Schierholtz after seeing him progress in 2011.
  • The Giants may not have room on the roster for both Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss.



Rosenthal's Latest: Braves, Upton, Keppinger, Bell

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, whose bow tie took some playful mocking from Brandon Phillips yesterday, is back with another handful of hot stove notes....

  • While the Braves still figure to acquire a right-handed hitter, Rosenthal points out that Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward have recently shown signs of heating up. Increased production from that pair could be the equivalent of adding an impact bat.
  • The Braves view their starting rotation depth as one of their greatest strengths, and aren't inclined to compromise it by dealing Derek Lowe.
  • Rosenthal backed off his Saturday guarantee that B.J. Upton will be traded before the deadline, cautioning that he doesn't know the Rays' exact intentions.
  • Before the Giants acquired Jeff Keppinger from the Astros, the Yankees inquired on the infielder.
  • The Cardinals are "hotter" on Heath Bell than Mike Adams, especially considering the Padres continue to "need to be overwhelmed" to move Adams.
  • One executive offered this metaphor on Pirates GM Neal Huntington using his farm system to facilitate potential acquisitions: "He’s been planting a garden for four years, and now he’s going to be picking flowers out of it."



Giants Acquire Jeff Keppinger

The Giants acquired Jeff Keppinger from the Astros for right-handed pitchers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel, the teams announced. The Astros called Jose Altuve up to the Major Leagues in a related move.

Keppinger has experience at all four infield positions, though he has spent the entire 2011 season at second base. Since recovering from left foot surgery and returning to Houston’s lineup at the end of May, the 31-year-old has a .307/.320/.436 line. He has been hitting especially well of late, with five hits, including two doubles and two home runs, in his last 13 at bats.

About $900K remains on Keppinger's $2.3MM salary for 2011 and he is controllable through 2012 via arbitration. When I looked at Keppinger as a trade candidate earlier in the month, I mentioned the Giants as a possible destination.

Sosa, 25, has a 5.51 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings for the Giants' top two affiliates this year. In six professional seasons, he has a 3.61 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9. Baseball America ranked Sosa 29th among Giants prospects before the season, citing his electric arm. However, the Dominican Republic native has "fringy" breaking pitches, according to BA.

Stoffel, 22, was a fourth round pick in 2009. Since then, he has posted a 3.78 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 102 1/3 innings, all of which have come in relief. Now at Double-A, Stoffel has a 3.98 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 31 2/3 innings so far this year. Baseball America ranked him 22nd among Giants prospects before the season, explaining that he has a fastball in the 88-93 mph range and a true power slider.

As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, GMs Ed Wade and Brian Sabean have matched up for many trades before, including deals involving Ricky Ledee, Alfredo Simon and, most recently, Matt Downs. Alyson Footer of the Astros first reported the trade (on Twitter).









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