White Sox and Jeff Keppinger agree to terms on three-year contract

White Sox and Jeff Keppinger agree to terms on three-year contract

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms on a three-year, $12-million contract with infielder Jeff Keppinger.  Under terms of the contract, Keppinger will receive $3.5 million in 2013, $4.0 million in 2014 and $4.5 million in 2015.

Keppinger, 32, batted a career-high .325 (125-385) with nine home runs, 40 RBI and a .367 on-base percentage in 115 games with Tampa Bay in 2012, making 41 starts at third base, 23 at second, 21 at first and 19 as the designated hitter.  His .325 average overall would have ranked third in the AL but he fell 84 plate appearances shy of qualifying.

Keppinger, 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds, led the American League with a .376 (44-117) average vs. left-handers and was the most difficult player in the AL to strike out, fanning just 31 times in 418 plate appearances.  He ranked fifth in the AL after the All-Star Break with a .332 (85-256) average, including a .369 (31-84) mark in August.

"Jeff adds a valuable and different type of offensive player to our lineup," said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager.  "Combined with his ability to play quality defense at multiple positions as well as his overall approach to the game, we are thrilled to add him to our mix."

Keppinger is a career .288 (707-2,459) hitter with 41 home runs and 255 RBI over eight major-league seasons with New York-NL (2004), Kansas City (2006), Cincinnati (2007-08), Houston (2009-11), San Francisco (2011) and Tampa Bay (2012).  

Among active players, he ranks second with an average of 15.64 plate appearances per strikeout and seventh with .333 (237-712) average vs. lefties (minimum 750 plate appearances).  He joins Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia as the only three active major leaguers with more extra-base hits and walks than strikeouts.

Keppinger has never struck out more than 36 times in his eight major-league seasons, has been the toughest player to strike out in his league on four occasions (2008, 2010-12) and has finished with more RBI than strikeouts seven times.