Pirates Trade Rumors: Jeff Keppinger Could Offer Cheap Help

Names like the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena are dominanting Pirates trade rumors at the moment. However, considering the high price tag in both money and prospects those types of players would likely command, the Bucs are probably looking more in the journeyman bargain basement for a potential offensive upgrades.

One player who might fit that bill nicely is the Houston Astros' Jeff Keppinger. The former Pirate farmhand, signed to a $2.3 millon deal this season, isn't a power hitter (no more than seven home runs in any season of his career), but has posted a .700 OPS or better in each of the last three seasons, with a high water mark of .744 in 137 games 2010. His on-base numbers are down dramatically this season to .316, but he's played just 35 games after coming back from injury, so there's a good chance that stat will correct.

If the Bucs could snag him from last place Houston for little to nothing and get anything approaching his 2.0 offensive WAR in 2010, he'd likely be a big upgrade on Josh Harrison (.604 OPS, 0.0 WAR) and Brandon Wood (.607 OPS, 0.0 WAR). He also wouldn't block Pedro Alvarez if he were to return from AAA Indianapolis in the near future and could be useful in a utility role.

There's no hard reporting connecting Keppinger to the Pirates yet. However, he might be a very attractive fall-back position if the Pirates can't land a big fish to play first or third base down the stretch.  

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