Bill Hall is on the verge of a deal with the Astros. He’ll be the team’s starting second baseman, which seems to make the incumbent Astros second baseman, Jeff Keppinger, available on the trade market.
Brian Cashman has said that adding a veteran utility infielder is not a priority, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. Keppinger would certainly be an offensive upgrade over Ramiro Pena, and he’s more proven than Eduardo Nunez.
I’ve written before that I agree with Cashman on not prioritizing the utility spot. Even with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter needing occasional days off, I still don’t think there are enough at-bats for a utility man to have a significant impact. That said…
Pena is what he is: Terrific with the glove, almost a black hole with the bat. Nunez has more upside than Pena, but compare these slash lines from last season:
Nunez: .289/.340/.381 in Scranton
Keppinger: .288/.351/.393 in Houston
Nunez probably has more power and speed, and he might be a better defensive shortstop — maybe, I’m not sure — but Keppinger has a better career slash line in the Major Leagues than Nunez has in the minors. Keppinger hit better than Nunez last season, and that was with Keppinger facing much better pitching.
I saw Keppinger a few times when he was in Triple-A, and he could really hit down there. Not much power, but he knew what he was doing at the plate. He’s continued to walk more than he strikes out at the big league level. I don’t think the Yankees need him, but I think he would make their team better.
Question is whether Keppinger is worth the price in terms of the prospects it would take to acquire him and the salary it would take to pay him.