Yankees interested in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger

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According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Yankees have renewed their “longstanding interest” in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger. The Yankees have Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix on their roster, but they are currently seeking a veteran infielder who can play third base and fill in at shortstop with Derek Jeter coming off ankle surgery.

Keppinger isn’t a perfect fit for the role described by Rosenthal, as he hasn’t played shortstop since 2010 as a member of the Astros, but the Yankees have tried to acquire him on two previous occasions. The 32-year-old batted .325/.367/.439 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and an .806 OPS in 115 games with the Rays this past season while making starts at first base, second base and the hot corner.

At the very least, Keppinger would fill the void left by free agent Eric Chavez, who filled in at third base and first base at various points this year. Rosenthal has heard some scuttlebutt that the Yankees may be “laying the groundwork” to use Rodriguez as their primary designated hitter next season, but general manager Brian Cashman has refuted any such claims.

“There is no discussion whatsoever about Alex transitioning from third base to DH, part-time DH, first base or any other position on the field,” Cashman said.

“As we approach anyone in the free-agent market or anyone in trades, we’re making sure we have insurance policies, (asking) our what-ifs?”

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier this week that the Yankees could consider free agent Stephen Drew for a super-sub role while Rosenthal speculates that free agent Marco Scutaro and Tigers’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta could also fit the bill.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.