Rosenthal: Yankees have interest in Jeff Keppinger


Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees have “renewed (their) longstanding interest” in free agent Jeff Keppinger. The team tried to acquire the utility man from the Astros two offseason ago, but talks went nowhere.

Keppinger, 32, hit .325/.367/.439 (128 wRC+) in 418 plate appearances for the Rays this season. He crushes lefties (131 wRC+ since 2010) and is an elite contact hitter (6.5 K% and 92.9% contact rate), two skills the lineup could use right now. The Yankees are reportedly seeking a utility man who can play short and third and combined 100 times next year, but Keppinger hasn’t played short regularly in five years and at all in two years. If the Yankees want him, they’ll have to pay him starter money because other teams will surely offer more playing time.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
  • bartonbickle

    This is probably the best utility INF on the market, no? Why not give him a big 1 year deal for something like $5-6M?

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      I agree – I don’t mind a starter level overpay for one year. And if he has a good experience, gets more PAs than he expects (and god forbid wins a ring…) who knows what he’d agree to for 2014. Depending on how the roster shakes out bt 2013-2014 he may be even more of a fit for the team then than he is currently.

      • Ted Nelson

        Not many guys are going to have a good season and then take less money the next year.

  • bpdelia

    Quite frankly the Yankees already live with piss poor ss defense. The current backup would have to make an unlikely late 20s jump in ability to reach piss poor level. Keppinger is basically the best possible solution and should be free agent target 1 with Hairston, Haren and Soria right behind. Add petite, Martin and Ichiro and call it a winter

    • dalelama

      That would certainly guarantee more mediocrity.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Only in your troll world does 95 wins equal mediocrity.

        • dalelama

          Post season embarrassment equals mediocrity for a Yankee fan yeah but your loser mentality makes you a great Met fan.

  • LarryM., Fl.

    Keppinger is an excellent pickup. His age may detract some teams but the Yankees should remember Scissor hands should play short and second while Keppinger handles third, first and second. You need two utility guys with Arod and Jeter. He hits well as I have watched him with the Rays at times. Always making contact putting the ball in play.

    I like this type of player on our club. He did not start at anyone position for the Rays. So, he can be picked up for some NY pay scale to make it worth his effort.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He’s 32. That’s only old on jjyank’s FB page. *snare*

      • Aaron

        Link please.

  • G

    I’d go so far as to offer him a few years. He’s a perfect solution and the problem of an aging middle infield isn’t going to disappear in 2014. He may not be a regular SS, but I think he could fake it at least as well as Nix.

    Any way 2/$12M gets it done? Or is that too cheap after his great year?

    • Mike Axisa

      Gomes signed for 2/10, so 2/12 seems reasonable for Keppinger. Maybe even a slight overpay.

    • G

      Should’ve said infield in general, not just middle.

    • Ted Nelson

      Not sure if I’d go that high. He’s unlikely to repeat 2012. I guess if you’re comfortable with him playing a lot of SS that’s reasonable, and maybe they are.

      • G

        Well if he were to repeat 2012 (128 wRC+), I think $6MM would be a wonderful underpay. He and Swisher had identical wRC+s in 2012, and obviously Swisher is getting paid a hell of a lot more this offseason. If he can put up performances a bit above league average and play all infield spots adequately, I’d say he’s a perfect fit.

        • Ted Nelson

          He’s been 13 or more % below league average in wRC+ 3 of the past 5 years. When I say he’s not likely to repeat 2012, I mean he’s not likely to be above league average. I don’t think any team really believes he’s an All-Star type 2B.

          He’s a good fit, but $6 million per over 2 years can be spent a lot of other ways.

          • G

            There are plenty of other ways to spend it, but this is a clear need.

            A lot of those below average seasons were partly a result of incorrect usage. He was used too much against righties. If the Yankees are intelligent in his usage they should be able to get a league average season out of him. Against lefties, DH either A-Rod or Jeter and put Keppinger in their place.

            Of course he’ll have to be used against righties to be an effective backup. Honestly I think a 2/$12M bein worth Keppinger is contingent on using him intelligently.

            • Ted Nelson

              My point is that I think you can fill that need cheaper. And if they are serious about $189 million, they can’t use an extra $5.5 million at one spot without it impacting other spots. Spending $6 mill there vs., say, $3-4 mill might means not signing one $2-3 mill RP or 4th OF in 2014.

              I’m just not sure if being good 33% of the time at one position and maybe a 2nd he hasn’t played in four seasons is worth $6 mill. It’s not absurd by any means, but it’s the very high end of what I would spend on him. You might get a starting-caliber SS like Stephen Drew for similar money.

              Let A-Rod and Jeter play the field against lefties, for example, and get a lefty masher DH-corner-type on a tiny deal in the Thames/Andruw mold, for example, and you get similar overall production.

              • G

                If Stephen Drew will take 2/$12MM I’d certainly go for him, it’s just I think he’ll be guaranteed a starting SS job somewhere.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Coming off a massive injury and ?resulting? productivity decline I don’t know that he’ll get more than that $ wise. They may not be able to convince him, but the Yankees might be able to sell him on a fulltime role between SS and 3B (plus some 2B, DH, and maybe OF).

                  Just one example of what those same $ might buy you. It’s also that far fewer dollars that $6 million might get you productivity that’s not too far out of line with Keppinger.

                  I’m not against Keppinger. I just don’t think $6 million for him is an easy decision.

                  • G

                    Sorry poor word choices. Meant to say that if they came at the same price, yes I’d have to consider taking Drew over him. On th other hand, Keppinger is a right handed contact hitter, Drew is a lefty with a 20% K rate. Keppinger might be the better fit.

                    Regardless, no it’s not an easy decision. Very little in this business is. However, if the Yankees sign him to such a deal, I’ll assume they did proper research and find it to be a worthwhile calculated risk. I won’t applaud them for making a great deal, nor will I condemn them for making a bad one.

  • Neil

    Makes so sense unless they trade A-Rod. Chavez/Keppinger wouldn’t be a bad platoon. 5 or 6 million for a utility player is too much. Such a waste of money. Sign Chavez for backup corner IF, sign a true MI for SS/2B Backup.

    • Neil

      *Makes NO sense

      • G

        How? Fills the backup role for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and (above Nix level) shortstop.

  • Neil

    Actually never mind A-Rod can be the primary DH. And then Keppinger/Chavez can play 3B. I feel silly now.

    • G

      Sorry didn’t see this… Still not what would happen, he’d fill all over. He’s not just a 3B.

    • dalelama

      Make Arod play third every game in the hopes he embarrasses himself enough to retire.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Keppinger would be a good pickup. He can be the backup corner infielder, letting Nunez be Jeter’s backup and occasionally spell Cano.

  • MB923

    It makes a ton of sense to get him, but I think Keppinger is a player several teams in the league would use as a full time starter. Starters obviously get more years and more money and I’d expect Keppinger to get that from another team.

  • Preston

    I’d rather just stick with Nix/Nunez than pay for Keppinger.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      On a one-year deal I honestly don’t care, but this isn’t a rumor I’m jumping up and down about. I’m family ambivalent on Keppinger.

      • whiskey quibbler

        rumors are pleasant diversions; they engender interesting hotstove discussion. but how often do we actually sign guys the yankees reportedly “have interest in.”

    • GoNavy-BeatArmy

      Yeah that’s fine if you enjoy watching Nunez throw balls over to first that Tex can’t even get to — it is just too painful to watch him play defense. It’s not like he’s crushing the ball at the plate and can make up for his piss poor defense. He just an average hitter without power who can’t field.

  • Ted Nelson

    Question that I have with Keppinger is just whether he’ll get overpaid coming off of a career year. Not that I think any team really thinks he’s an All-Star or something, but he might be slightly overpaid.

    And also whether he can play SS for 50+ games a season. Granted he could spend some time in the OF, but a back-up 3B who is a career 97 wRC+ hitter is not as valuable as a back-up SS/3B. Depth at 2B is not all that valuable for 2013 (Cano would get hurt, but he’s expected to play a ton of games… plus there’s CoJo and Adams in the minors for depth), so if he’s not playing SS much Keppinger is essentially a back-up 3B and corner-OF… where bats are easier to come by.

    So, all told the Yankees might pay solid starting 2B money for a limited back-up. But he could also be a good “super-sub” at a reasonable price and especially if he can play SS.

    • GoNavy-BeatArmy

      I honestly think there is a good chance he could play almost full-time running around subbing for at least our old-ass left side of the infield. He can give Cano an occasional day off too, but he should get into at least 75% of games.

      • Ted Nelson

        That’s why I ask if he can play SS. He’s started only 13 games there since 2008. They might have simply made a mistake, but chances are that if he could play SS the Astros, Gaints, or Rays would have played him there… none exactly had A-Rod in his prime blocking Keppinger.

        If he can’t hang at SS, it cuts the number of games he can appear in almost in half (granted, they could also try to work him into the OF a bit more).

        • bpdelia

          Yeah but that’s the thing red. Yankees are accustomed to crap as defense. how much worse can he be than Jeter. And as much as some on, this board like to pretend Nunez is a “kid” he isn’t. Terrible atrocious fielders don’t magically become good fielders in their late 20s. Nix is a barely adequate fielder too. May as well get a guy who can take lefties.

          • Ted Nelson

            It’s also just about comparing him to guys on the roster today. You have to compare him to all available options. And then you have to consider both his production and his cost against those options.

            It’s possible that the Astros and Giants have very high defensive standards, but I don’t think there’s much evidence to support that. While Jeter is a bad defender, it’s possible to be a LOT worse at SS.

            No one is asking Nunez to be a good defender. You’re building a strawman. He has had better and worse seasons for errors, and he has solid range. People who are pulling for the guy are hoping that he’s less bad defensively and does enough offensively to make up for being a below average defender.

            • Ted Nelson

              It’s also *not* just about

              • bpdelia

                Maybe. I still think he Is the best option. My offseSeason checklist was Kurosawa, petite, Rivera, Keppinger, Hairston, Martin, Ichiro, Soria. That was hyperbole but Nunez just doesn’t hit enough to justify his defense. His track record is what it is. I’d be happy with Hairston and, Ichiro in rf, Keppinger playing almost every day against lefties at 3rd, SS, and left and Rodriguez playing only 100 games in the field. If I had to choose between Keppinger and Chavez I’d choose,Keppinger. It makes sense and I’d personally be very comfortable with Two years on Keppinger and Hairston. Save the money that would be used on ibanez, a Jones replacement etc and get Keppinger

                • Ted Nelson

                  In terms of talent, he might be. In terms of contract, we’ll see. I would like to see them sign Keppinger. If it’s for the $6 mill type number a lot of people on here seem to thing, though, I wonder what else that will cost them.

              • leo mendez

                You guy give Nunez the benefit of the doubt please the kid was bring to ply behind the one icom. He got lots pressure. They move him all over. They even play him in in the outfield. Where he never play before.

  • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

    Two year deal would be okay. Cano is going to be looking for a huge deal, which would mean it might be in the Yankees best interest to let him go; and Keppinger could help fill that hole for a year.

    • GoNavy-BeatArmy

      Keppinger is no replacement for Cano. The concept of signing Keppinger to a super-utility role has no impact on whether to sign Cano. Why would we just let Cano walk — of all players the Yanks have right now, he is about the only one that we should sign long-term.

  • tbord

    A Big Splash or Another Wet Fart – You be the Judge – Minca Lewinsky

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula

    I’m down for Keppinger given the status of Arod and Jeter.

    It’s a much better plan than the fanatsy of expecting Chavez to stay healthy and hit 16 homers again

  • Wayne

    Would keppinger cost us a first round pick!
    No thanks!

  • dalelama

    Yawn,,,,again we are diddling on the fringe.