Skip to content

Jeff Keppinger for $12 million is a bit of a reach

Dec 5, 2012, 2:17 PM EDT

Jeff Keppinger AP

Obviously, it’s a good idea not to give three-year contracts to part-time players unless you have to. Unfortunately, in this winter’s free agent market, the White Sox felt they had to. Jeff Keppinger probably had multiple teams interested in him at $8 million for two years, so the first team to go to $12 million for three was the one that got him.

In Keppinger, the White Sox are getting an infielder who provides most of his value as a starter against lefties. He’s a lifetime .269/.321/.358 hitter against righties, and he doesn’t make up for it with his glove, which is poor at second and probably a bit below average at third.

Keppinger’s list of comparables doesn’t make him look like a very good bet as he heads into his age-33 season. Keppinger hit .296/.341/.402 with 21 homers and five steals from ages 30-32. I found nine other second and/or third basemen who posted OPSs from .720-.770, hit fewer than 40 homers and stole fewer than 20 bases from ages 30-32. Here’s how they performed from 33 onward:

Steve Buechele: .177/.262/.215, 29 OPS+ in 130 AB
Jamey Carroll: .274/.353/.333, 89 OPS+ in 2,162 AB
Mike Gallego: .225/.299/.292, 59 OPS+ in 612 AB
Vance Law: .209/.303/.276, 66 OPS+ in 134 AB
Dave Magadan: .280/.382/.372, 101 OPS+ in 1,057 AB
Joe Randa: .282/.339/.432, 100 OPS+ in 1,748 AB
Johnny Ray: .277/.308/.371, 92 OPS+ in 404 AB
Denny Walling: .252/.320/.355, 88 OPS+ in 812 AB
Joel Youngblood: .252/.323/.353, 92 OPS+ in 842 AB

Carroll, of course, is still going.

Magadan would seem to be a nice comp for Keppinger, but he was the far better hitter (he was also left-handed). Magadan had a career 116 OPS+ prior to turning 33, whereas Keppinger is at 97. Randa had more power than Keppinger, but he’s the best hope for the White Sox here, as he was a better old player than a young one.

Buechele and Ray only made it to 33. Law actually went to Japan for his age-33 season before coming back and playing one more year in MLB.

While Keppinger is a useful player, he’s a worse bet than he was a year ago, when he was also a free agent (he was non-tendered by the Giants) and when the White Sox had no interest in him.  The White Sox already had a right-handed hitting third baseman in Brent Morel who may well prove to be the better player once defense is factored in. I realize funds are limited, but I think the White Sox would have been better off trading Gavin Floyd or Matt Thornton to free up money for a bigger offensive upgrade than they were giving Keppinger $4 million for each of the next three seasons.

Latest Posts
  1. Robinson Cano, Shin-Soo Choo each hit their first homers of the season

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT

    Robinson Cano AP

    Slow starts for the well-paid are beginning to be reversed.

  2. Kyle Gibson tosses eight shutout innings, lowers ERA to 0.93

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:46 PM EDT

    Kyle Gibson Twins Getty Images

    Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson was fantastic this afternoon against the Blue Jays, shutting them out for eight innings of four-hit ball. Gibson struck out four, walked one, and lowered his ERA to 0.93 on the season.

  3. Wrigley Field, after the apocalypse

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT

    Wrigley Field

    This is some good nonsense for a slow day.

  4. They’re playing sub-freezing baseball in Minnesota

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    below freezing

    It’s really, really cold in Minnesota right now and they’re playing outdoor baseball.

  5. HBT Daily: The Perfect Baseball Game

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    Your mileage may vary, but a 1-0 game in which each starter go the distance is baseball at its most sublime.

  6. Cardinals place Joe Kelly on the disabled list

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals - Game One Getty Images

    St. Louis has placed right-hander Joe Kelly on the disabled list after he injured his hamstring trying to beat out an infield single Wednesday.

  7. Another day, another in-depth Yasiel Puig article

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    yasiel puig pose getty Getty Images

    Two big features in one week suggest we have hit Peak Puig.

  8. Casey Janssen shut down with more back problems

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

    Casey Janssen Getty Getty Images

    Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen began a minor-league rehab assignment by throwing a scoreless inning Tuesday at Single-A, but now Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that he’s been “temporarily shutdown” with more back soreness.

  9. Cardinals and Cubs throw down in 1974: They don’t make brawls like this anymore

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 9.15.53 AM

    This fight was precipitated by a pitcher being deliberate and a batter stepping out. Which, unlike today, was kind of unusual in 1974.

  10. Trevor Bauer might be ready for his closeup in Cleveland

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    trevor bauer getty Getty Images

    Trevor Bauer was impressive in his one-start call-up to the Indians last week and kept things rolling in his return to Triple-A yesterday, throwing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts versus just one walk.

  11. Out-of-jurisdiction, off-duty cops no longer allowed to bring their guns to Turner Field

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    Glen Ford Experiment in Terror

    If you’re an off-duty cop who plans to kill the Queen in Turner Field, you had best do it quickly.

  12. Juan Lagares’ hamstring injury “not that bad”

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

    Two injury stories so far today, two bits of good news.

  13. Mets sticking with Jose Valverde as closer despite homers

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Jose Valverde Mets Getty Images

    Working in a non-save situation with a five-run lead last night Jose Valverde served up a pair of home runs to the Diamondbacks before eventually finishing up a Mets victory.

  14. Photo Sequence of the Day: Jackwagon fan struts, runs, gets tackled

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Camera

    I’m guessing 95% of the security guards working in the state of Texas played at least high school football. It’s probably the last place you want to find yourself out on the field. You’re gonna get yourself tackled, dude.

  15. Scott Cousins is a pitcher now

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    Scott Cousins Getty Images

    An oufielder, made more famous for injuring someone else than his own hitting, is now trying out pitching.

  16. “They Don’t Know Henry”

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    Image (1) Hank%20Aaron%20AP.jpg for post 4132

    Everyone wants to tell Henry Aaron who he is and what he stands for. But as a great new song tells us, They Don’t Know Henry.

  17. And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

    Apr 17, 2014, 6:06 AM EDT

    Julio Teheran Getty Images

    Lots of shutouts yesterday. Including one that was the Platonic Ideal of a baseball game. At least if you have taste and stuff.

  18. Kirk Gibson, Kevin Towers given votes of confidence

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:32 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo

    The Diamondbacks lost another game to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon and are now 4-14 on the season with by far the worst run differential (-48) in the major leagues. But the manager and GM are not on the hot seat … yet.

Featured video

Jackie Robinson Day is bittersweet
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. T. Wood (5176)
  2. S. Kazmir (4846)
  3. J. Kubel (4702)
  4. K. Uehara (4181)
  5. I. Nova (4037)
  1. G. Springer (3386)
  2. T. Walker (3196)
  3. J. Reyes (3063)
  4. M. Machado (3031)
  5. M. Moore (3008)