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. ┬áThe 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. Sonny Gray takes liner off of ankle, but is expected to make his next start

    May 24, 2015, 11:35 PM EDT

    Sonny Gray Sonny Gray

    The struggling Athletics got a scare on Sunday when Sonny Gray was hit by a comebacker, but he’s expected to make his next start.

  2. Jose Reyes expected to rejoin the Blue Jays on Monday

    May 24, 2015, 10:25 PM EDT

    Jose Reyes Jose Reyes

    Veteran shortstop Jose Reyes will return to the Blue Jays on Monday after dealing with a cracked rib.

  3. Video: Yankees induct Bernie Williams into Monument Park

    May 24, 2015, 9:20 PM EDT

    Bernie Williams Bernie Williams

    Bernie Williams was honored with his induction into Monument Park at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

  4. Video: Justin Upton rips a grand slam to put the Padres up early

    May 24, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Justin Upton Getty Images

    Justin Upton knocked in six runs in his first two at-bats on Sunday against the Dodgers. Four of them came on a first-inning grand slam.

  5. Pirates starters had a weekend of double-digit strikeout performances

    May 24, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    Francisco Liriano Francisco Liriano

    Pirates starters Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, and Francisco Liriano combined for 32 strikeouts in a three-game sweep of the Mets over the weekend.

  6. Rangers sign Jared Burton to a minor league contract

    May 24, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Jared Burton Jared Burton

    The Rangers added bullpen depth on Sunday, signing reliever Jared Burton to a minor league contract.

  7. Marco Gonzales feeling renewed discomfort in pectoral

    May 24, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    marco gonzales getty Getty Images

    Gonzales pitched well in his latest outing for Memphis, striking out seven and allowing only one run over six innings, and he was almost certain to be the next man up for the St. Louis rotation.

  8. Cubs return Anthony Varvaro to Red Sox after MRI reveals torn flexor tendon in his elbow

    May 24, 2015, 4:04 PM EDT

    anthony varvaro getty Getty Images

    Varvaro is now on the disabled list with the Red Sox and won’t pitch again this season. The 30-year-old had an impressive 2.63 ERA, 1.079 WHIP, and 50/13 K/BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings last summer with the Braves.

  9. Giants designate Casey McGehee for assignment

    May 24, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

    casey mcgehee getty Getty Images

    San Francisco acquired Casey McGehee from the Marlins in December to effectively replace Pablo Sandoval at third base, but the 32-year-old woke up Sunday with a brutal .200/.254/.282 batting line and he had tallied just nine RBI in 35 games.

  10. Video: Steven Souza throws an elbow at Stephen Vogt

    May 24, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    souza getty Getty Images

    Steven Souza appeared to have a clear path to the plate — at least the outside of the plate — yet went right for Stephen Vogt with his elbow raised.

  11. Kyle Lobstein lands on 15-day DL with sore shoulder

    May 24, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    lobstein getty Getty Images

    Kyle Lobstein made the Tigers’ starting rotation out of spring training with Justin Verlander (triceps) ticketed for the disabled list. But that spot will now go to right-hander Buck Farmer because Lobstein needs a disabled list stint of his own.

  12. Shane Victorino heads back to the disabled list

    May 24, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    shane victorino getty Getty Images

    Victorino has appeared in just 50 of a possible 205 games over the last two seasons due to a variety of leg and back problems.

  13. Mitch Harris’ journey from the Naval Academy to MLB

    May 24, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    mitch harris getty Getty Images

    Really cool feature here from MLB Network on Mitch Harris’ unique path from the United States Naval Academy to a bullpen job with the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals …

  14. Yan Gomes returns to the Indians’ lineup after missing six weeks with a sprained right knee

    May 24, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT

    yan gomes getty Getty Images

    Gomes, 27, batted .278/.313/.472 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI in 135 games last season for the Tribe, earning his first Silver Slugger Award. Cleveland (17-23) could use a big offensive boost right about now.

  15. Marlins jump in Clevelander pool after snapping losing streak

    May 24, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT

    marlins getty Getty Images

    Miami defeated Baltimore to snap an eight-game losing streak late Saturday night on a Martin Prado walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the 13th inning.

  16. Video: Anthony Rizzo slugs game-winning three-run shot

    May 24, 2015, 9:21 AM EDT

    anthony rizzo getty Getty Images

    Rizzo also hit a three-run double in the fifth, finishing the game with a career-high-tying six RBI.

  17. Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

    May 24, 2015, 8:37 AM EDT

    alex gordon getty Getty Images

    Your box scores and recaps from Saturday …

  18. Play of the Day: Joey Votto makes a ridiculous throw to complete a double play

    May 23, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Joey Votto Joey Votto

    Joey Votto made an unorthodox throw to help turn a double play against the Indians on Saturday.

  19. Brian Matusz was ejected for having a foreign substance on his arm

    May 23, 2015, 10:47 PM EDT

    Brian Matusz Brian Matusz

    Brian Matusz is the second lefty reliever to be ejected for having a foreign substance on his arm.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (3462)
  2. R. Castillo (3401)
  3. D. Travis (3156)
  4. A. Pujols (3000)
  5. C. Crisp (2953)
  1. H. Ryu (2860)
  2. B. Harper (2842)
  3. Y. Puig (2818)
  4. D. Wright (2685)
  5. J. Ellsbury (2672)