Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

December 6, 2012

Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jeff Keppinger, Joe Blanton, Jason Bay and a diamond full of players wound up in different places Wednesday at the winter meetings while top contenders waited for a pair of free-agent prizes to make their decisions.

Eric Chavez, Randy Choate and Sean Burnett also joined new teams. The lone trade was minor, with Detroit sending left-hander Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh for a young catcher.

Former MVP Josh Hamilton and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke remained in play. They’re the driving forces in this market and depending on where they go, more moves are likely to follow.

Texas would like to re-sign Hamilton, at the right price. The slugger was in Nashville this week but has left, and his agent met with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels on Tuesday night.

“Obviously, one of the bigger dominoes,” Daniels said. “Trying to get the first one to fall.”

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey keeps drawing attention. He lives near the Opryland Hotel and dropped in for a visit, though there’s no change in his situation. Signed for next season, he wants a new contract while several clubs, including Boston, want to trade for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

In the meantime, some deals stayed on deck. No telling if any of them will get done before the meetings end Thursday with the Rule 5 draft for players left off 40-man rosters.

“We wondered if one of the guys went off, (if) it would speed up. We’ll see,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said. “It seems like it may be moving a little bit.”

Also in the mix: Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, amid speculation Arizona is trying to get him in a multi-team swap.

All-Star third baseman David Wright of the New York Mets became the first player to step up to the brightly lit podium in the press room. Standing at the spot where trades and signings are usually announced, his appearance was expected.

Wright was in town to talk about his $138 million, eight-year contract, the largest in team history. The lifetime .301 hitter is a six-time All-Star and turns 30 in two weeks. A Mets fan growing up, Wright said he wanted to spend his entire career with the club.

“I’ve never pictured myself in a different uniform,” he said.

“It just feels like there’s so much unfinished business and I’d like to finish what I’ve started,” he added. “Honestly, it wouldn’t mean as much to me winning somewhere else as it would obviously winning here.”

Away from the dais where Wright spoke, inside the suites at the sprawling 2,881-room hotel, several players changed jerseys.

Keppinger agreed with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no announcement.

The versatile infielder hit .325 with a career-high nine home runs and 40 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season. At 32, the well-traveled Keppinger is known for making contact and has more walks than strikeouts during his eight-year career with the Rays, San Francisco, Houston, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the Mets.

Keppinger is likely to play third base for the White Sox. Kevin Youkilis finished the season at that spot for Chicago last season, then became a free agent. The New York Yankees and Arizona also had been interested in Keppinger.

Arizona wound up with Chavez, giving the corner infielder a $3 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The 34-year-old Chavez hit .281 with 16 homers in 278 at-bats for the Yankees, seeing time at first base, third base and designated hitter. The six-time Gold Glove winner lives in the Phoenix area.

Bay and the Seattle Mariners agreed on a one-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiation said. The 34-year-old outfielder is hoping to resurrect his career with the Mariners after three disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Mets.

The Los Angeles Angels added Blanton and Burnett to their retooled pitching staff, and St. Louis signed Choate for its bullpen.

Baltimore kept outfielder Nate McLouth and Colorado re-signed pitcher Jeff Francis.

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