White Sox, Jeff Keppinger agree on 3-year deal
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Twitter: @soxvan_cst December 5, 2012 1:00PM
Updated: December 5, 2012 4:01PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The White Sox reached an agreement with 32-year-old infielder Jeff Keppinger on a reported three-year, $12 million deal on Wednesday.
Keppinger, coming off a career year in which he batted .325 with a career-high nine homers for the Tampa Bay Rays, presumably will be the Sox third baseman if Kevin Youkilis is not brought back. Keppinger can also play second base and shortstop, which gives the Sox options and could keep the door open should they be interested in trading second baseman Gordon Beckham.
Sox manager Robin Ventura would not confirm the Keppinger deal, which hasn’t been announced.
The Sox ideally wanted a left-handed hitting third baseman if Youkilis was not brought back, especially if left-handed hitting catcher A.J. Pierzynski signs elsewhere. Pierzynski was still a free agent on Wednesday afternoon. The Sox haven’t stopped talking with the agent for left-handed hitting third baseman Jack Hannahan, however.
Keppinger, who bats right, is a career .269 hitter against right-handed pitching, compared to .333 against lefties.
Keppinger is an above average defensive third baseman, probably better than Youkilis, and is one of the toughest hitters in baseball to strike out. He fanned 31 times in 418 plate appearances last season, and is a career .288 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage.
He is recovering from a broken leg suffered at his home on Nov. 26, but is is thought to be ready in time for spring training.