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Rays close to deal with INF Jeff Keppinger

The Rays are closing in on a deal with INF Jeff Keppinger.

If negotiations are completed and he passes his physical it is likely to be announced by the end of the week.

Keppinger, 31, split last season between the Astros and Giants, hitting .277 with 6 homers and 35 RBIs in 99 games.

He was non-tendered by the Giants after the season as they chose to keep Mike Fontenot, with Giants VP Bobby Evans saying the "tiebreaker" was that they considered Fontenot better at shortstop. Keppinger, who made $2.3-million in 2011, was used exclusively at second by the Giants.

Keppinger has played seven seasons in the majors, compiling a .281 average, 32 homers and 215 RBIs, with a .332 on-base percentage, .388 slugging and .720 OPS.

But his appeal to the Rays seems obvious: a career .324 / .371 / .481 / .852 line vs. left-handed pitchers.

Keppinger had two injury issues last season, missing the first 50 games as he recovered from left foot surgery then, after being traded from Houston to San Francisco (for minor-league pitchers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel) in mid-July he hurt his right wrist in August, missing three mid-August games and struggling a bit when he returrned.

Keppinger has started 262 games at second base, 157 at shortstop, 85 at third base, 5 at first base and 2 in the outfield in his career.

Posted by Marc Topkin at 5:37:31 pm on January 25, 2012