Giants acquire Jeff Keppinger from Astros, call up Brandon Belt

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The Giants made a couple of key changes on Tuesday, acquiring infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Astros for RHP Henry Sosa and RHP Jason Stoffel and calling up Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno.

Keppinger has been on the trade block ever since he returned from foot surgery at the end of May.  Since replacing Bill Hall as the Astros’ primary second baseman, he’s hit .307/.320/.436 with four homers and 20 RBI in 163 at-bats.  Rarely one to swing and miss, he had just four walks and seven strikeouts in 43 games.  Last year, he hit .288/.351/.393 in 514 at-bats for Houston.

The 31-year-old Keppinger will fill the hole at second base the Giants have dealt with ever since losing Freddy Sanchez to a shoulder injury.  The Giants originally picked up Hall after he was released by the Astros, but he struggled and is currently on the DL.  If Sanchez is able to avoid season-ending surgery and return next month, then Keppinger will likely slide into a utility role.

The cost for Keppinger was a pair of modest prospects.  Sosa, 25, was one regarded as one of the Giants’ best prospects, but his stock as slipped the last couple of years.  The Giants shifted him to the pen in Triple-A this year with brutal results; he had a 10.41 ERA in 17 appearances before being sent back to Double-A.  Restored to the rotation in the Eastern League, he had a 2.68 ERA and a 36/8 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings.

Stoffel, 22, was also pitching for Double-A Richmond and had a 3.98 ERA as the team’s primary closer.

The Astros should be pleased if one of the two turns into a decent bullpen arm for the team.

The Giants also recalled Belt after he hit .293/.442/.610 with three homers in 12 games for Triple-A Fresno.  He’ll likely get Pat Burrell’s at-bats in left field for now.

21-year-old catcher Hector Sanchez, who was just called up last week, was returned to the minors.  He played in three games and went 0-for-3.

To replace Keppinger, the Astros called up one of their top prospects, Jose Altuve, from Double-A Corpus Christi.

Report: White Sox discussing trade for Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson
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A number of teams are making calls about Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson these days, as is the general nature of the offseason. Per Jason Kinander of FanSided, there have been some preliminary trade discussions between the Dodgers and the White Sox, though a formal deal doesn’t appear imminent and any potential competition from other clubs is still unknown.

Pederson, 26, has enjoyed quite a run with the Dodgers over the last five years. A perennial 25-home run hitter (when healthy), he slashed .248/.321/.522 with 56 RBI, an .843 OPS, and 2.7 fWAR through 443 plate appearances during the 2018 regular season. Following the Dodgers’ unsuccessful postseason campaign, Pederson agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract in advance of the arbitration deadline, and is currently slated to remain under team control through the 2020 season.

Despite his relative affordability and clear value to the club, shedding Pederson from their roster would allow the Dodgers to pursue the kind of right-handed hitters they need to balance out their 2019 lineup. It’s not certain what the White Sox are prepared to give up, but Kinander mentions right-hander Carson Fulmer, lefty reliever Aaron Bummer, and recent draft pick/third baseman Bryce Bush as a few possibilities.