Scouts: A lot to like about Keppinger

Jeff Keppinger gives manager Robin Ventura plenty of lineup flexibility. Mike Stobe/Getty Images

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The imminent signing of Jeff Keppinger by the Chicago White Sox gives the team plenty of latitude when it comes to their infield mix in 2013.

I polled five top baseball talent evaluators at the winter meetings about Keppinger's skilll set. The overall opinion is the Sox signed a valuable roster piece.

"I always liked Keppinger," said an AL scout. "He brings a lot of different things to a ballclub. He is not an everyday guy, but he can play every day for a couple of weeks at a number of spots and help you compete."

The 32-year-old infielder was being sought by seven teams when he signed a deal with the Sox which a source says is for $12 million over three years.

The Sox, who do not have an everyday third baseman, could use Keppinger in a platoon or move him around the infield.

"His strength is his versatility," said an AL scout. "I loved this kid since I watched him in high school. He is a professional player who makes consistent contact and can play four infield positions. The White Sox overpaid this guy for a reason. If your starter gets hurt he takes over and you will still not miss a beat."

Keppinger is a .288 lifetime hitter and more importantly strikes out only once in every 16 at-bats. Projecting him as the everyday third baseman may be a stretch at this point of his career.

"He is not an everyday player for me," said an AL assistant general manager, "but he is the type of selfless player every team needs to win. The contract to me is a great insurance policy for the team to platoon him or break in a young player at third base."

The Sox are prepared to move on without Kevin Youkilis, who was the everyday third baseman after coming over in a trade with the Boston Red Sox in June. Youkilis is talking to numerous teams about playing first or third base.

The Sox were considering moving Dayan Viciedo or Gordon Beckham back to third base. Viciedo was below average third baseman, but Beckham was a Gold Glove-caliber defender at the hot corner when he played there in 2010.

"To me the player is a 100-game, 400 at-bat guy," an NL advance scout said. "He has to be protected from injury as he gets a little older. You don't try to outsmart yourself here. Keppinger is a solid extra guy who is a quiet kid that gets the job done."

The White Sox' payroll commitment will be around $106 million with the addition of Keppinger once he passes a physical.