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Rays make room for Jeff Keppinger by dropping Triple-A MVP Russ Canzler

Jan 27, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT

keppinger giants getty Getty Images

This hasn’t been a good couple weeks for Russ Canzler.

Last season he won the International League MVP award after hitting .314 with 18 homers, 40 doubles, and a .930 OPS for Durham, made his big-league debut in September with a handful of at-bats, and for a while at least it looked like the 25-year-old first baseman might get a chance as the Rays’ starter.

Then last week Tampa Bay signed Carlos Pena, ruling out that possibility, and now they dropped Canzler from the 40-man roster altogether to make room for Jeff Keppinger. From atop the depth chart to on the waiver wire in less than a week.

Keppinger, who was non-tendered by the Giants last month, finalized a one-year, $1.525 million deal with the Rays and they designated Canzler for assignment. It’ll be interesting to see if Canzler is claimed off waivers, because while certainly not a top prospect he’s had back-to-back big seasons in the minors and would seemingly be a nice bench bat at worst.

  1. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 27, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    25 is generally considered old for a prospect but it’s still kinda early to drop him altogether. Hopefully it was more a move to give him a chance to make it as a starter somewhere else.

  2. rooney24 - Jan 27, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    If he wasn’t getting a chance there, I think getting waived would make this a good week. He should either be claimed or get set loose, so he can latch on with another club. Worst case, he could likely play in an independent league, where he would still be free to sign anywhere if he plays well again, rather than be locked behind an established player at his position.

  3. drewsylvania - Jan 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    He’ll only be worth a bench spot if he can field.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 27, 2012 at 8:36 PM

      How many teams do you know that carry decent-hit, no-field, plays-first-only player as a bench replacement?

  4. felser - Jan 27, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Very lucky last season, unsustainable .400 BABIP, a lot of strikeouts with those 18 HR’s.

    • Mark - Jan 27, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      Minor League BABIP isn’t as predictive as it is in the majors. You’ve got lousy pitchers and lousy fielders, so the few good hitters who drive the ball with authority/power are naturally going to have higher BABIPs.

  5. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 27, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Any word on why the Giants wanted Fontenot over this much more talented player?

    • jlhc5530 - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:19 PM

      Quite simple…though it’s for many reasons:
      -Keppinger has no range and very poor defense overall.
      -He cannot successfully play any other position than 2b.
      -Super slow baserunner.
      -His offensive value is quite empty, being just batting average.

      Fonty OTOH, has defensive versatility being able to play SS passably as well as 2b. Couple that with his lefty bat, and he’s actually a rare bench commodity, especially in this price range.

  6. billymc75 - Jan 27, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Rangers need another first baseman go get him. 25 is not old Nelson Cruz and Randy Johnson were both late bloomers

  7. snowbirdgothic - Jan 27, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Sorry to hear that. He was one of the more enjoyable players to watch in Durham last year.

  8. fuggles7 - Jan 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Big question is.. how did he do with Annie Savoy??

    • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      I guarantee you Beinfest is looking at him. We shall see.

  9. foreverchipper10 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Kid is from my area. I wish him the best.

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