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.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.
Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.
Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.
Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.