Rays Interested in Jeff Keppinger?

First brought to our attention by John Gregg of RaysDigest.com, and more recently DRaysBay, it appears as if there has been some dialogue between the Rays and middle infielder Jeff Keppinger.

The account isn't verified, but @JeffKeppinger has been tweeting about possibly joining the Rays over the past few days. This tweet from January 15th in particular sticks out

Kep1_medium

There's zero cache in creating a fake Jeff Keppinger Twitter account, and Giants' reliever Sergio Romo and Giants' beat writer Andrew Baggarly both follow it, lending a bit more credibility. The fact that a Jon Heyman or Ken Rosenthal hasn't picked up on this yet is a bit worrisome, but...it's Jeff Keppinger. We're not reporting this as fact, but it would make a lot of sense if true. The Rays have publicly been linked to Ryan Theriot this off-season, and Keppinger is virtually the same player.

Career AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Theriot .282 .344 .353 .315
Keppinger .281 .329 .386 .317

Theriot has been the better defender according to UZR, but it's virtually a wash at the plate. Like Theriot, Keppinger would have to come at a discount. There's no chance the Rays would match or exceed the $2.3 million he made last season.

The 2011 season was Keppinger's worst since since 2008, splitting time between Houston and San Fransisco. He's played excellent at times -- 2007 and 2010 -- but has been below league average overall. The 31-year-old has seen over 100 games of action at second base, shortstop and third base respectively. He's a high contact (92.9%) low strikeout utility infielder that would allow the Rays to upgrade over incumbent Elliott Johnson.

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