GM Rick Hahn likes depth of White Sox’ rotation; infielder Jeff Keppinger in fold
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org December 10, 2012 7:23PM
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2012, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays' Jeff Keppinger runs to first base against the New York Yankees during a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla. A person familiar with the contract tells The Associated Press that Keppinger has reached agreement with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Updated: January 12, 2013 6:21AM
General manager Rick Hahn likes dealing from strength. He also likes having depth in his pitching staff, which is something that makes the White Sox contenders in the American League Central.
‘‘We like how we match up against anybody one through five,’’ Hahn said.
A starting rotation of Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Jose Quintana allows to him sleep comfortably at night. It also allows him to explore trades that might make his team better.
‘‘We’ve been fairly popular [in trade discussions] because of our [pitching] depth, but we’re not
inclined to move any of that strength,’’ Hahn said during a conference call Monday to discuss the signing of free-agent infielder Jeff Keppinger. ‘‘We’ll continue to listen
and explore options, and should there be something that we feel is so strong that we cannot pass up, we’ll do it. But at this point, we like our pitching staff, we like our rotation.’’
Hahn and a lot of teams, including the Cubs, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seat-
tle Mariners, liked Keppinger, who as of now is the Sox’ starting third baseman. Getting three years with a playoff contender in a city he loved to visit and play in as a
National Leaguer led to Keppinger choosing the Sox.
‘‘The team that they’ve got and the city,’’ the versatile Keppinger said of his decision to sign without being promised a role or position. ‘‘I really like Chicago. I thought it would be a good fit for me for the length of the contract I got.’’
Keppinger, 32, agreed to his first multiyear deal last week. He’ll get $3.5 million in 2013, $4 million in 2014 and $4.5 million in 2015.
‘‘There still is a fair amount of the offseason to go,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We’ll see how it plays out in the coming weeks and months. It plugs a hole for us, but he has the flexibility and versatility to allow us to be creative with other options as the offseason unfolds.’’
A .288 career hitter, Keppinger batted .325 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 115 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He was used at third, second, first and designated hitter. Among active players, he ranks second with an average of 15.64 plate appearances per strikeout.
‘‘I like the 2-hole,’’ he said. ‘‘With the Rays last year, I bounced around all over the place. It doesn’t matter where I hit in the lineup.’’
Keppinger slipped on stairs at home and broke his right leg in
November. He expects to get out of his walking boot Tuesday and was told by doctors he’ll be ready for spring training.