NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The White Sox reached an agreement with 32-year-old infielder Jeff Keppinger on a reported three-year, $12 million deal on Wednesday.
Keppinger, coming off a career year in which he batted .325 with a career-high nine homers for the Tampa Bay Rays, presumably will be the Sox third baseman if Kevin Youkilis is not brought back. Keppinger can also play second base and shortstop, which gives the Sox options and could keep the door open should they be interested in trading second baseman Gordon Beckham.
It's possible Keppinger, whom the Seattle Mariners also wanted, was signed as a utility player. His presence doesn't solve the Sox shortage of left-handed hittting should catcher A.J. Pierzynski sign elsewhere.
Sox manager Robin Ventura would not confirm the Keppinger deal, which hasn't been announced.
The Sox ideally wanted a left-handed hitting third baseman if Youkilis was not brought back, especially if the left-handed hitting Pierzynski signs elsewhere. Pierzynski was still a free agent on Wednesday afternoon. The Sox haven't stopped talking with the agent for left-handed hitting third baseman Jack Hannahan.
Keppinger is a career .269 hitter against right-handed pitching, compared to .333 against lefties.
An above average defensive third baseman Keppinger is one of the toughest hitters in baseball to strike out. He fanned 31 times in 418 plate appearances last season, and is a career .288 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage.
He is recovering from a surgically repaired broken leg suffered at his home on Nov. 26, but is is thought to be ready in time for spring training.