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Yankees weighing Jeff Keppinger, Kevin Youkilis for third base

Dec 4, 2012, 2:51 PM EDT

Jeff Keppinger AP

While the Yankees have at least touched base with free agent Kevin Youkilis, Jeff Keppinger appears to be their primary target at the moment. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that the two sides met yesterday and that the Bombers’ interest in Keppinger is “very strong.”

Keppinger is the more realistic target, given that Youkilis is the top third baseman on the market and is drawing interest from wealthy Dodgers and Phillies teams that have full-time jobs open for him. Keppinger would likely be more open to serving as the stopgap at third base while Alex Rodriguez rehabs from hip surgery and then moving into more of a utility role. Keppinger, though, could command a two-year contract from another team, while the Yankees would much prefer to hand out a one-year deal.

The 32-year-old Keppinger is coming off a great season in which he hit .325/.367/.439 with nine homers and 40 RBI in 385 at-bats for the Rays. He’s a lifetime .288/.337/.396 hitter in 2,459 at-bats. He is much better against left-handers than right-handers, but that’s not such a bad thing in the lefty-heavy Yankee lineup.

Youkilis hit .235/.336/.409 with 19 homers and 60 RBI in 438 at-bats for the Red Sox and White Sox last season.

Update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the price for Keppinger is now $8 million for two years. That will give the Yankees pause, considering that their aim is to reduce payroll for 2014.

  1. stex52 - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I said this before. Kepp will give you average or so defense and the flexibility to play second base also. He will hit close to .300 and he will wear out lefthanders. But don’t fall in love with the power numbers, and last year was atypical for walks. I would think he is very unlikely to replicate that .800 OPS. A very solid utility-plus player and not a bad pick up at all.

  2. uyf1950 - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I like Keppinger for the Yankees a lot. Especially now with A-Rod being sidelined for at least the the 1st 3 months of the season maybe 4 months. He’s still only 32 he’s good and he’s relatively inexpensive. And the most it will probably take is a 2 year deal. I like him to be the primary back up for Jeter and also the along with Chavez if the Yankees re-sign him as the combo to fill in for A-Rod.

  3. jasonc2300 - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Man, if the Yankees can’t sign someone because they’re priced out by wealthy teams, we’re all screwed.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Who says ARod is playing 3B when he comes back?

  5. fanofevilempire - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I want to see Jetes slap Youk like Manny did, I miss Manny.

  6. anxovies - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    The Yanks should forget about the free agent market at 3B except to re-sign Chavez for backup and go with 28 year old Ronnier Mustelier next year. Mustelier is seasoned in the Cuban leagues and his superior hitting and good defense in AA and AAA make him a strong contender for the position.

  7. soxfan1966 - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    I’d hate to see Youk reduced to wearing a Yankee uniform.

  8. richwizl - Dec 4, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    I’d hate to see Youk go there because he’d kill us every time we played them.

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