Given the injuries to shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, it’s only natural the New York Yankees would be in the market for some help on the left side of their infield. Ideally, that would come in the form of one player who could effectively handle either position.
Enter Jeff Keppinger, who blossomed in Tampa Bay last season. Keppinger has made a career out of being able to play all over the infield effectively, and out of crushing left handed pitching. Jeff Passan says New York has strong interest in signing the utility man.
Frequently used as a cleanup man last season in Joe Maddon‘s unusual lineups, Keppinger responded with a career-high nine home runs, a .325 batting average, and a .806 OPS. Despite breaking his leg this off-season, Keppinger is drawing significant interest across the league and could find a role as an everyday player elsewhere.
Part of the problem in New York’s quest for infield help is that while Jeter is expected back somewhere near Opening Day, Rodriguez will likely miss the entire first half of the season and maybe longer. So the Yankees want to find someone good enough to be viewed as an everyday player, but also one that will be okay with heading to reserve duty once Rodriguez returns.
Generally speaking, players who are good enough to start don’t much care for not starting. New York’s better bet might be to re-sign Eric Chavez and hope he can stay healthy enough to make it through the first part of the season without Rodriguez.
UPDATE (3:35 pm): Via Ken Rosenthal:
Price for Keppinger, according to official of one club involved in talks, is now at $8M for two years. #Yankees among teams with interest.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2012