A couple of months ago, as the 2012 season ran out, Nick and I were discussing options for putting together the 2013 team. We do this a lot, somebody throws out a name and we run away to dreamland as to why this would be, how this is possible, and how it benefits the White Sox while promoting world peace. At some point we got knocked down to earth. The player will cost too much, won’t be willing to change position, he was actually never really that good in the first place. This happened with Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger seemed like a good idea for a moment. He’s coming off of a career year and after a career of playing mostly infield filled in much of the season for an injured Evan Longoria at third and did it without embarrassing himself.
Then we kind of came off it. Sure Keppinger had a career year, but he’ll be 33 this year, he didn’t “figure anything out”. His BABIP surged to .332, 50 points higher than his 2011 mark and well above his career average. It’s true, he’d be serviceable at third, where he receives probably his best defensive rating of the infield positions. This makes sense, being that 2B/SS are the more challenging spots. In a vacuum, what can we expect from Keppinger in 2013? If the vacuum has Bill James printed across it instead of Kirby, we can expect a .290/.342/.392 line. James’ expectations tend to be on the generous side, but that says decent on-base in exchange for very little pop. Still, probably better than would be received from Brent Morel.
Then there’s the money. Rumors have expectations at either a 2 or 3 year deal with an AAV of $4-5M. That’s not awful, but with the presumed regression it isn’t a bargain either. The 3B market is weak, as we know too well, and a lot of teams are in need. A couple of antsy executives could drive that salary expectation up quite a bit, to the point where the signing is suddenly silly.
Oh and there’s the fact that he fell down some stairs and broke his leg. It required surgery, which requires a recovery. That occurrence may wash away the premium that could have been applied with the lack of positional depth in the free agent pool but also increases the risk. Is it even reasonable to expect a player to repeat a career season on the wrong side of 30 after undergoing minor surgery? It’s a stretch.
I’ve talked about the bad idea of re-signing Youkilis, I’ve moaned on twitter about other options like Chone Figgins, and now here I am saying that Keppinger wouldn’t be such a great idea. When it comes down to it I know something will have to be done. I’m just not ready to settle yet.