Do you want proof that the infield class on this free agent market is week? A day after Marco Scutaro got $20 million over three years from the Giants, former Rays utilityman Jeff Keppinger received a three year, $12 million deal from the Chicago White Sox.
Keppinger had a fine 2012 for the Rays in limited duty, amassing 2.8 fWAR in 418 plate appearances with an .806 OPS, playing first, second, and third base for the Rays. But deep down, he's still a bench player, and the White Sox are paying him like he's a starter. Chicago will be paying for his age 32-34 seasons, coming off of the best year of his career. This is a guy who was nontendered by the Giants after the 2011 season and signed by the Rays for a hair over $1.5 million. And now, he's getting $12 million over three years in guaranteed money.
With Chicago, Keppinger will likely take on a variety of roles due to the struggles of Gordon Beckham at second base and the team's current lack of a third baseman. Depending on what type of solution the Sox come up with at third base, Keppinger could actually get a lion's share of the playing time at the position, something that could come back to bite the White Sox if Keppinger's .332 BABIP from 2012 drops to a more sustainable level and/or his recovery from a fractured fibula.
$4 million per year over three seasons seems like a lot for a bench player, but that's what the market is bearing right now. That three year, $10 million deal that the Blue Jays gave Maicier Izturis looks a bit better in hindsight after this contract.