From Marc Topkin of the newly-named Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays are “closing in on a major-league deal” with infielder Jeff Keppinger.
An agreement could be finalized later this week.
Keppinger batted just .277/.300/.377 with six home runs and 35 RBI across 399 plate appearances last season between the Astros and Giants, and he turns 32 years old in April. But the former fourth-round draft pick is capable of playing all over the infield and he owns an .852 career OPS vs. left-handed pitchers.
The Rays will likely throw him into their rotation of middle infielders, using him primarly against southpaws.
UPDATE, 9:43 PM: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick says it’s done. Keppinger gets a one-year major league deal.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.