Jeff Keppinger a smart pickup for thrifty Rays

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Counting on Carlos Pena, Matt Joyce and Luke Scott to fill key roles this year, the Rays had set themselves up to have huge problems against lefties in the bottom half of the order. That was alleviated somewhat today with the signing of Jeff Keppinger.

Of course, Keppinger doesn’t play the same position as any of those guys, but that’s where the Rays’ versatility and ability to adapt kicks in. Ben Zobrist was looking at a full-time role at second base this year. Now he’ll likely play right field and maybe some first base against lefties, with Keppinger taking his spot.

The Rays still have to decide how exactly they’re going to comprise their bench. Keppinger will get one spot and the backup catcher (currently either Jose Lobaton or Robinson Chirinos another). That leaves two places for infielders Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer. Brignac and Fuld are both left-handed hitters, which would seem to work against them here, but Fuld at least is probably going to have a job anyway.

My opinion is that the Rays should forget about Fuld and bring in a right-handed hitter (Conor Jackson?) to claim that spot. As is, they’re still looking at starting two from the group of Pena, Joyce and Scott against southpaws and that’s far from ideal. Pena hit .133/.260/.333 in 120 at-bats against lefties last season. Joyce came in at .217/.287/.370 in 92 at-bats. Scott, who missed much of the season with a shoulder injury, was at .167/.225/.556 in 36 at-bats.

Keppinger is an obvious upgrade from that group (he hit .290/.292/.484 in 93 at-bats against lefties last year and is at .324/.371/.481 for his career), and his arrival will also improve the defense a bit, not because he’s a better second baseman than Zobrist but because Zobrist is a terrific right fielder. For $1.525 million, he was an excellent find for one of the league’s brightest teams.

Brewers designate Boone Logan for assignment, recall Freddy Peralta

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The Brewers announced on Tuesday that reliever Boone Logan has been designated for assignment and starter Freddy Peralta has been recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Peralta will start on Tuesday evening against the Pirates, opposite Jameson Taillon at PNC Park.

Logan, 33, has struggled this season, serving up seven runs on 15 hits and 10 walks with 14 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. The lefty inked a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Brewers in January, but he missed the first six weeks of the season with a triceps injury.

Peralta, 22, made his major league debut last month, making a stellar start against the Rockies at Coors Field. He struck out 13 batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He made another, less successful start against the Twins before heading back to the minors. With Colorado Springs, Peralta owns a 2.75 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 27 walks over 59 innings.