Archive for Jeff Keppinger
4:35pm: Conflicting reports! Buster Olney says the Yankees never did make Keppinger an offer. I suppose they could have floated the idea of … whatever. They didn’t sign him, end of story.
4:03pm: Heyman says the Yankees actually offered Keppinger more than the three years and $12M he took from the ChiSox. I assume he took the full-time job over the utility infielder gig.
1:30pm: Via Jon Heyman & Ken Rosenthal: The White Sox will sign Jeff Keppinger to a three-year contract worth $12M. The Yankees had a lot of interest in Keppinger following Alex Rodriguez‘s new hip injury, but there was no chance they were going to three years. Scratch a name off the infield list.
Day Two of the Winter Meetings was busier than Day One for the Yankees even though they didn’t make any moves or announce another Alex Rodriguez injury. Brian Cashman confirmed speaking to the representatives for Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez. Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds were also said to be on the team’s radar.
- 5:14pm: Reynolds is seeking a similar salary to the $7.5M he made in 2012. [Bryan Hoch]
- 4:42pm: The Yankees have been talking to the representatives for Mark Reynolds about playing third base. [Sherman]
- 1:20pm: The Yankees have been exchanging trade proposals with other teams about their players, including Curtis Granderson according to Buster Olney. He cautions that this is typical and the not necessarily an indication that something serious is brewing.
- 1:11pm: A deal between the Yankees and Youkilis is unlikely, and Keppinger remains the team’s top third base target. Agreeing to a contract length will be an issue. [Mark Feinsand]
- 10:56am: The Yankees checked in with Hannahan but are not very serious about signing him. Due diligence, I suppose. [Jordan Bastian]
- 10:16am: Nate Schierholtz is making “good progress” towards his next deal and the Yankees are considered the early front-runner to sign him. That would be swell in my opinion. [Buster Olney]
- 9:30am: The Yankees “really want” Keppinger and he could wind up with a three-year deal worth $13M. They’ve let Keppinger’s camp know they’ll give him two years. [Danny Knobler & Joel Sherman]
- There are “strong indications” the Yankees will not seriously pursue Pierzynski. A White Sox official indicated the catcher would be more willing to take a one-year deal with the Bombers than with any other team. [Sherman]
- Free agent infielder Jack Hannahan is also of “some interest” to New York. The 32-year-old is a great defensive third baseman who will draw a bunch of walks, but otherwise he can’t really hit. [Paul Hoynes]
The Winter Meetings are only a day old, but they have yet to bring anything resembling good news to the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez will undergo surgery to repair some serious damage in his left hip next month, which will cause him to miss the start of the season. Now the club has to add a stopgap third baseman to a shopping list that already includes a starting right fielder, a starting catcher, a DH, a bench, and various depth players. Thankfully Spring Training is still more than two months away.
Joe Girardi will meet with the media at 5:30 ET today, but those things usually lack major news. Either way, I’ll have a recap. We’ll keep track of all the Yankees-related rumors and rumblings throughout the day right here, so make sure you check back in. Here are Monday’s rumors and here are today’s, with the latest up top (all times are ET):
- 8:56pm: The Yankees have asked to see Youkilis’ medicals, though the two sides remain far apart on the dollars. I do not like where this is going. [Barbarisi]
- 8:19pm: The Yankees remain in the mix for Scott Hairston. [Rosenthal]
- 7:25pm: Brian Cashman confirmed that they’ve had conversations with both Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski. [Dan Barbarisi]
- 7:06pm: The Yankees are one of several teams with interest in Mark Reynolds. [Heyman]
- 7:05pm: Updated demands! Keppinger is reportedly seeking $12M across three years now. [Heyman]
- 6:02pm: The Yankees don’t want to break the bank on a third baseman even on a one-year deal. They’re nowhere close on money with Youkilis. [Curry]
- 4:15pm: The Yankees have met with Chavez’s agent at some point during the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in re-signing him for next season. This was inevitable following A-Rod‘s injury. [Ken Davidoff]
- 3:33pm: Scutaro is seeking $24M across three years (!) while Keppinger is seeking $8M across two years. They’re basically the same player except Keppinger is five years younger. [Olney & Ken Rosenthal]
- 2:01pm: The Yankees have “very strong” interest in Jeff Keppinger and met with his representatives yesterday. The A-Rod injury accelerated their timetable. [Jeff Passan]
- 1:15pm: Kevin Youkilis is the top third baseman on the free agent market and the Yankees have spoken to his agent. The long-time Red Sox player is apparently open to a one-year contract if the money is good enough. [Jack Curry]
- 12:55pm: The Yankees have checked in on Shane Victorino, who figures to get multiple years. [Jerry Crasnick]
- 12:44pm: The Yankees have “likely interest” in Marco Scutaro, which means no one really knows if they have interest and are just guessing in the wake of A-Rod’s injury. [Ken Rosenthal]
- 9:43am: The Yankees are talking to multiple nameless third base candidates. Speculate at your own risk. [Heyman]
- 9:30am: The Yankees are open to discussing Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes in trades. I wrote about what they could expect in return for their center fielder in a mailbag a few months ago, and I have a hard time seeing a realistic deal that would be worthwhile. [Buster Olney & Joel Sherman]
- Although he intends to play in 2013, the Yankees have yet to talk to Eric Chavez about a new contract for next season. That figures to change pretty quickly in the wake of A-Rod’s injury. [Sherman]
- Depending on who you ask, the Yankees either are or are not in on Yunel Escobar. I suppose they could have checked in before backing off. Considering their emphasis on strong makeup and character, I can’t imagine they would push hard to acquire him unless he came dirt cheap. [Jon Heyman, Jayson Stark & Olney]
Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees are one of seven teams “believed” to have interest in free agent outfielder Shane Victorino. I wrote a Scouting The Market piece on the Flyin’ Hawaiian last week, so check that out. Heyman says several clubs are prepared to offer Victorino a three-year contract, and if that’s true you can forget about him replacing Nick Swisher in right field. No way the Yankees will offer that.
In other hot stove news, Jeff Keppinger recently suffered a broken leg during a fall in his home according to Heyman. It’s a small crack in his right fibula near his calf, and he’s expected to be ready in plenty of time for Spring Training following surgery. The Yankees have interest in the infielder, and coincidentally enough, their attempt to acquire him from the Astros two years ago was interrupted by another injury, that one a foot problem requiring surgery.
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.
I’m fairly certain we’ve used that headline for every non-tender deadline in RAB history, but I’m not going to stop until someone tells me to. Anyway, last night was this year’s non-tender deadline, when teams had to offer contracts to their players with less than six years of service time or cut them loose. The Yankees unsurprisingly tendered all of their eligible players contracts, but of course not every team followed suit. There’s a whole new batch of free agents on the market this morning, some more interesting than others.
A full list of non-tenders can be found here, and we’ve already talked about several of them. That includes Hong-Chih Kuo (interesting, but not sure if he wants to play next year), Ryan Spilborghs (hasn’t hit lefties in three years), and Joe Saunders (lefty reliever only). Unfortunately neither Tom Gorzelanny (lefty reliever candidate) nor Joe Thatcher (held lefties to .185/.250/.259 with a 5.23 K/BB ratio last three years, bothered by shoulder problems in 2011) were non-tendered, so the Yankees won’t be able to scoop them up for nothing but money and a roster spot.
A few people have already asked about Luke Scott, who the Orioles cut loose. He’d make a lot of sense for the Yankees if they needed a DH since he’s a left-handed power hitter willing to work counts and draw walks, but they don’t. Calling him an outfielder is a stretch, and they absolutely shouldn’t let him (or any free agent, really) take at-bats away from Jesus Montero next season. He just isn’t a good fit. I’d rather see the Yankees try to sign Jeremy Hermida to a minor league deal if they want to add some lefty hitting outfield depth, since the out-of-options Chris Dickerson is likely to end up elsewhere. Here’s a few more non-tenders of note…
Jeff Keppinger & Will Rhymes, IF
The Yankees have been connected to Keppinger quite a bit over the last year or so, as they showed interest in trading for him last offseason before he needed foot surgery in January. The 31-year-old was terrible in 2011 (.295 wOBA in 399 PA), but he’s shown flashes of being something more than a zero with the stick in the past. His .332 wOBA in 2010 was fueled by an 8.9% walk rate, and he excels at making contact (just 6.2% strikeouts and 2.8% swings and misses in his career). Just don’t expect any power whatsoever (career .108 ISO). Keppinger can play second and third, but he hasn’t logged many innings at short in recent years.
Rhymes, 28, is a tad more interesting. His big league performance (.313 wOBA in 312 PA) isn’t anything special, but he’s a .290/.357/.386 career hitter in nearly 1,400 Triple-A plate appearances. Rhymes is essentially a left-handed version of Keppinger, meaning he has no power (.085 ISO in the minors), draws a fair amount of walks (8.0% in the bigs, 8.8% in Triple-A) and makes a lot of contact (9.0% strikeouts and 2.8% swings and misses in MLB, 10.5% strikeouts in Triple-A). Although the Tigers had him play second base exclusively the last two years, he’s seen time at third and short in the minors. Interestingly enough, Detroit non-tendered Rhymes even though he has less than one year of service time, so whatever team signs him will control him through 2017. From what I can tell, he even has one minor league option remaining.
Doug Slaten & Jose Mijares, LHP
Brian Cashman insists that left-handed relief help isn’t a priority at the moment, but you know they’re going to keep an eye out for anyone that could be useful in that role. They added Cesar Cabral through the Rule 5 Draft after bringing Mike O’Connor aboard on a minor league deal, and now they’ll have a crack at Slaten and Mijares.
Slaten, 32 in February, has managed to appear in 204 games over the last five seasons, holding lefties to a .241/.304/.361 batting line with 73 strikeouts and 23 walks in 301 plate appearances. He’s a big guy (listed at 6-foot-5, 215 lbs.) without big stuff (upper-80′s fastball and low-80′s slider, so generic LOOGY stuff), and he missed time with nerve damage in his elbow in 2011. Mijares, 27, is a shorter and fatter version of Slaten (6-foot-0, 230 lbs.) with his upper-80′s heat and low-80′s slider, but his velocity dropped off big time this year. He’s held same side hitters to a .212/.276/.331 batting line with 65 strikeouts and 21 walks in 287 career plate appearances, but those numbers are worse since his 2009 breakout (.259/.323/.406 with 33 strikeouts and 11 walks in 156 plate appearances).
Peter Moylan, RHP
Unlike the other guys mentioned in this post, Moylan would be an injury reclamation project. He missed basically the entire 2011 season with a bulging disc in his back, and he just had surgery on his labrum and rotator cuff in September. It wasn’t a total repair, more of a cleanup that will keep him on the shelf for six months.
The 33-year-old from Australia is a low-arm slot righty specialist more than anything, using an upper-80′s sinker and upper-70′s slider to get ground balls (career 64% grounders) and hold righties to a .215/.276/.301 batting line over the last six years. Moylan won’t strike many guys out, not even righties (23.0% strikeouts), and he’s damn near unusable against lefties (.277/.406/.381 career). It remains to be seen how Moylan’s stuff will rebound following the back and shoulder injuries, but he’s basically another Luis Ayala, just with more ground balls and fewer strikeouts. You can do worse as the seventh guy out of the bullpen.
Via Brian McTaggart, Astros infielder Jeff Keppinger will likely miss the start of the season after having surgery to clear out some inflammation in his left foot next week. The Yankees had talks with Houston about acquiring Keppinger for the bench, but those talks eventually fell apart. The injury effectively ends any chance of talks being resumed and a trade being made. For shame, he would have been a nice little fit.
Via Ken Rosenthal, trade talks between the Yankees and Astros about infielder Jeff Keppinger went “nowhere.” I assume that means the Yankees have moved on after showing interest in him earlier this offseason. Keppinger would have been a real nice fit because he hits lefties and can play all over the infield, but oh well. There’s other fish in the utility infielder sea. No need to overpay for one in a trade.
Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have spoken to the Astros about infielder Jeff Keppinger with regards to their seemingly never-ending search for bench help. Rosenthal says a trade is not close, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
I wrote all about Keppinger over the summer and nothing’s changed. He’s a big time contact guy, walking more than he’s struck both last year as a full-time player and over his entire career. He’s unquestionably an upgrade over Eduamiro Penunez, and the only thing Jerry Hairston Jr. has on him is the ability to play the outfield and familiarity. The prospect cost should not be high, either. Keppinger is arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason ($1.15M salary in 2010), so he’d be under team control through 2012.
It still feels like the season just started, but the trade deadline is already less than six weeks away. The Yankees got an early start on things last year, acquiring Eric Hinske from the Pirates on June 30th. We have a pretty good idea of where the team needs some help now that 42.6% of the season is complete, so over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at some (reasonable) players the Yanks could target in a midsummer trade to reinforce their squad.
After doing such a fine job last year, Ramiro Pena has basically gone on to perform as his minor league track record suggested he should this year. He’s hitting a weak .190/.235/.206 (.213 wOBA) in 70 plate appearances, putting him on pace for 164 trips to the plate, or 43 more than last season. The reason he’s played so much more in 2010 is quite simply health. Alex Rodriguez has been battling a nagging hip/groin issue for the last month or so, and Derek Jeter has already missed time with minor illness, hamstring, and heel problems. Even Kevin Russo, who quickly became a fan favorite because of big hits against the Mets and Twins, has a .231 wOBA in a sneaky high total of 51 plate appearances.
It’s entirely possible that A-Rod and Jeter shake off the nagging injury bug the rest of the way and turn into the workhorse players they’ve been for the last decade and a half, but the Yanks would be wise to have a more viable backup infield option handy. I like Pena and Russo as much as the next guy, but they’re simply not producing enough, even by bench player standards.
Jerry Hairston Jr. might be the ideal target because of familiarity more than anything, but he’s not hitting either (.271 wOBA) and the Padres are surprise contenders that might not be willing to sell off a useful part. One team that isn’t anywhere near contending and has a versatile infielder to spare is Houston, who has been trotting Jeff Keppinger out as their starting second baseman basically all season.
The former Met and Red gained a little notoriety by hitting .332/.400/.477 (.385 wOBA) in 276 plate appearances for Cincinnati in 2007, though he’s basically established himself as a .267/.318/.365 hitter in 1,110 plate appearances since. He’s enjoying his best season since 2007 this year, with a .284/.330/.374 (.312 wOBA) batting line in 264 plate appearances for the Astros. The one thing he really excels at is getting the bat on the ball; his contact rate on pitches in the zone (97.7%) and on all pitches (93.1%) are among the four highest percentages in the game this year, ditto his absurdly low 2.2% swing-and-miss rate. His contact rates are almost identical to Brett Gardner‘s, for comparison.
Because he hits for so little power (.091 ISO in 2010, .107 career), Keppinger basically provides an empty batting average, which is fine for a bench guy. You’re not asking him to be an offensive force off the bench, you just want more than an automatic out. Both his AVG and OBP are slightly above the league average (by 25 points and one point, respectively), and the Yankees really couldn’t ask for much more. Perhaps Kevin Long will be able to add a little loft to his swing like he did with Hairston (he went from 42.0 FB% with the Reds to 46.4% with the Yanks, boosting his offensive performance appropriately), adding a little more pop to his game.
Keppinger has played second base almost exclusively this year, though he has plenty of experience at both third and short as well (more than 760 defensive innings at both spots). He’s even logged time at first base and in both corner outfield spots in the past. Going around the horn, his career UZR/150′s at the three non-first base infield spots are -4.2, -12.3, and -1.4, which is quite simply awful. Keppinger’s throwing arm and ability to actually catch the ball is fine, he’s just got zero range. He’s not an asset on the bases either, with just four steals in eight attempts over the last three years, and his non-stolen base baserunning has cost his team 1.77 runs since 2008. Basically he’s a guy that gets the bat on the ball and can fake a bunch of different positions.
On the contractual side of things, Keppinger is still owed approximately $653,000 of his $1.15M salary this season, and he actual has two more years of team control ahead of him. Granted, he’ll be arbitration eligible during both those years, likely pushing his salary north of $2M and then $3M, but the Yanks would always have the option of non-tendering him. Who knows what the Astros would want in return, but I can’t imagine it’s much more than what the Yanks gave up for Hairston, grade-C and low level prospect Chase Weems (.231/.250/.282 as a backup in High-A ball this year). Moreover, owner Drayton McLane first needs to sign off on a rebuilding effort before GM Ed Wade can shop his players around.
It’s worth mentioning that Hairston’s production improved after he joined the Yanks last year (.308 wOBA with the Reds, .325 with the Yanks), but who knows why that happened. Maybe it’s just a small sample size fluke, maybe he was rejuvenated by joining a contender, maybe K-Long fixed him, who knows. Whatever it was, the Yanks can’t count on it happening again. By no means is Keppinger lighting the world on fire, but it’s a clear upgrade over Pena and Russo.
Remember, bench players are bench players for a reason: because they aren’t good enough to start. The only reason Keppinger is getting regular at-bats in Houston is because the Astros are terrible and don’t have a better option. His name is sure to pop up because he fits a need, but I’m not necessarily suggesting the Yankees should acquire him. I’m just laying out the facts for discussion purposes. Keppinger is a moderately productive player with a favorable contract on a team that shouldn’t consider him a long-term building block, ergo a decent trade target.