Jeff Keppinger to the Chicago White Sox on a 3 year $12 million contract. This came as quite a shock to me as the White Sox seemed to be interested in Kevin Youkilis to fill the void at third base. In 2012, Keppinger hit .325 for the Tampa Bay Rays. Keppinger is a grinder and I think his style could fit the White Sox. Keppinger is currently rehabbing a broken leg but should be ready for spring training.
There is a few things this signing says to me:
1. Brent Morel isn't the answer at the hot corner under new GM Rick Hahn. Under Kenny Williams, Brent Morel seemed to be the long-term plan at third base, but after missing most of last year with back problems it seems like the White Sox don't want to mess with Brent Morel any longer. Keppinger is a guy who will easily fill the empty shoes left by Brent Morel, Kevin Youkilis and the revolving door that was third base for the White Sox last year.
2. The White Sox did not want a one year player at third base. I thought that a one year deal with Youkilis was one the horizon for the White Sox, but they were able to fill the hole for 3 years. Youkilis received the same amount of money from the New York Yankees for one year This is a great deal for a three-year contract when healthy Keppinger brings a high average, high energy guy to the White Sox. Keppinger won't speed up the base paths any for the Sox, but he won't clog them as much as Youkilis did last year.
3. Keppinger not only fills the slot at third, but he has versatility playing every infield in the past three seasons. This could open up some opportunities in the future. Gordon Beckham has been floundering at second base the past two seasons and I could see Keppinger filling in at second if Beckham can't find his rookie season magic. Keppinger could also find himself on the other side of the infield playing first in late game defensive situations, or permanently if Konerko gets hurt, or if Konerko is done after his current contract expires after the 2013 season.
My thoughts: I really like the Keppinger signing. His upbeat tweets about rehab is a positive sign and it seems like Keppinger is a great guy off the field as well. Keppinger will fit right in the locker room with the current roster of the White Sox and I think on the field Keppinger fills a whole. Third base has been atrocious since Joe Crede was let go and I think the revolving door stops for the next three years. The money of the contract is very fair for both sides and I have always liked the way Keppinger plays the game. Of course, as with any signing, there is no sure thing. Keppinger could get hurt again, but I think this deal was a no-brainer for the Sox. I am looking forward to see Keppinger on the South Side.
Follow Keppinger on Twitter White Sox fans @JKeppinger and welcome to the South Side.
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