Rays Notes: Jeff Keppinger Breaks Fibula, Shane Dyer Signs With Tigers, More on Longo Extension
By Robbie Knopf
After a big season with the Rays in 2012, Jeff Keppinger was set to cash in as a free agent this offseason. Now, things are more up in the air. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Keppinger fell in his house and broke his right fibula, requiring surgery that will prevent him from doing baseball activities until mid-January. The break in his fibula, otherwise known as his calf bone, was small, and Keppinger will be ready for spring training without a problem. However, Keppinger is turning 33 in April and has gone on the DL the last three seasons, and signing an injury-prone veteran with age not exactly on his side to a multi-year can’t be the most attractive option to teams. With the market so thin, teams may be desperate enough to sign Keppinger nevertheless. If the Rays decide to seriously pursue re-signing Keppinger, they may have gotten something of a lucky bounce here, but it’s unlikely that the Rays would commit to Keppinger on a multi-year and he will surely have other suitors. Good luck to Keppinger in his recovery and his decision-making process this offseason.
Officially leaving the Rays organization is their 6th round pick from back in 2008, Shane Dyer. Per ESPN’s MLB Transactions, Dyer signed has signed with the Detroit Tigers as a minor league free agent. Dyer, who will turn 25 in March, got his first taste of Triple-A in 2012 but got shelled to a 7.34 ERA in 43.1 innings pitched before being send back down to Double-A. The Rays released him three weeks ago. Dyer’s major problem is that he has been unable to miss any bats. The past two years between Double-A and Triple-A, Dyer has struck out just 4.2 batters per 9 innings. Dyer lives off a plus cutter in the high-80’s, but he is forced to use it way too much because the rest of his arsenal is unimpressive. His fastball in the 90-91 MPH range is straight, his low-80’s breaking ball is slurvy, and his changeup shows promise but Dyer can’t sell it as a strike often enough. His overall control is good but his command is just solid and he allows way too much hard contact. The Tigers are going to try to help Dyer get more movement on his fastball and tie together the rest of his arsenal, and he’s young enough and has shown enough promise in the past that they have a real chance of making that happen. Best of luck to Dyer in the Tigers organization.
It was very exciting yesterday when we heard that Evan Longoria had signed an extension with the Rays that will keep him in a Rays uniform until as late as 2023, and now we have some more details courtesy of Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
Longoria wants to spend the rest of his career with the Rays and was able to find the perfect contract to make that happen. The contract is backloaded, which is somewhat counterintuitive because Longoria should be much better in the first few years of the contract as opposed to the last, but the Rays will be raking in much more money from their next TV deal (and hopefully a new stadium) by then and it will not be nearly as much of a dent in their payroll. (For the next four years before the new extension kicks in, Longoria will make just 6 million dollars, 7.5 million dollars, 11 million dollars, and 12.1 million dollars, which is essentially the same he would have made before from the options in his previous extension.) Longoria isn’t just getting security for the foreseeable future- he’s giving the Rays payroll flexibility to build teams around him that will continue to contend and hopefully even more year after year. If Longoria can put his injury issues of the last two years behind him, this could end up as one of the best contracts in the history of baseball.