There is no question that former Chicago White Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger did not live up to expectations. General manager Rick Hahn‘s first free agent signing ever, Keppinger never could find the consistency at the plate he had in 2012 that drew the Sox to give him a three-year contract. The journeyman is still owed close to $8.5 million over the next two seasons from a team he will no longer play for, but the organization should just be happy that they are wiping their hands of Hahn’s first mistake as general manager.
Keppinger was signed in the winter before the 2013 season in order to be a steady force at a position that hampered the Sox in 2012, third base. After a slow start that saw Keppinger hovering around the Mendoza line for the first part of the season, the fanbase started to become disinterested in the career bench player.
With Conor Gillaspie showing some promise at third towards the middle of the season, Keppinger returned to the utility role that he has had for most of his major league career. By the end of 2013, Keppinger finished the year with an average of .253 and a dismal OBP of .283. With the Sox beginning to show their rebuilding philosophy towards the end of the year, Keppinger’s at-bats were delegated to Gillaspie and Marcus Semien. As the Sox started to shift their focus to the long term, the team realized they had no need for a 34-year-old backup infielder.
What also did not help Keppinger’s cause was his failure to stay healthy while playing for Chicago. After being limited somewhat last season, Keppinger was sidelined ever since Spring Training with tightness in his shoulder. With Gillaspie becoming an offensive force this season and Semien showing his versatility, there would be no room on the roster for Keppinger even if he was healthy.
The odds were starting to be stacked against Keppinger. The Sox clearly wanted to forget the mistake they made of signing him and were willing to eat up what was left of his contract. In the midst of a rebuilding movement, all the Sox can do is forget the past and keep moving forward.