The National League West tides have changed, at least for one particular middle infielder. Former Diamondback shortstop Chris Owings has inked a deal with Colorado—but his Spring Training campaign could decide whether his destination is Denver or Albuquerque.
Owings posted a -0.8 fWAR with Arizona in 2018, before being dealt to Kansas City and then Boston in 2019, and seeing his least action on a big league field in six years. A slash of 325/.385/.595 reasons Owings as having a quality 2019 campaign—in Triple-A. He hit .139/.209/.233 with near-equal plate appearances in a big league uniform.
Owings does bring valuable experience to the table as a seven-year big league veteran, and with plenty of MLB experience at a multitude of positions, it sounds like a relatively low-risk minor-league contract for Colorado to sign. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts filled half of the Red Sox infield last year, making it difficult for Owings, once an everyday guy for Arizona, to see playing time like in his previous years. Story and Arenado do the same for Colorado to a similar extent.
What remains an asset is Owings’ ability to work as a utility guy, to some degree. He’s been a shortstop in most instances, but aside from primary designation in the middle infield, he has considerable outfield experience under his belt, too. If the Rockies are indeed looking at a younger, less-experienced Sam Hilliard in center field for 2020, a guy like Owings may even be a viable option with seven years in the big leagues under his belt, should he return to his peak Diamondback successes. It’s not to say he’d completely forgo his primary placement in the infield, but versatility proves as an asset with a guy like him—even if it’s merely covering a spot in the outfield on a periodic basis.
Much remains as to whether he’s as viable as he was with Arizona, his peak fWAR being 4.6 in 2015. Irregardless, the nature of a minor-league deal like this appears advantageous for Colorado to pursue; if indications into Spring Training show him as viable as his peak years would suggest, a modest chunk of salary on the team may be worth it.
If Owings is to indeed make the big league roster after Spring Training, he will earn $1.1 million this next season, per the Denver Post. This would put him on the bottom end of salaries for post-arbitration Rockies, but still the 16th highest paid player on the roster. Owings received $3 million from Kansas City this past season.
As a comparison, Carlos Estevez was the Rockies most used reliever last year, and will make $1.2 million in 2020.
Add the Mets to the train of potential landing spots: Arenado is supposedly an “ideal fit” in Queens, New York, according to an article directly from a blog connected to the Mets television affiliate.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com suggests it will take a controllable first baseman or center fielder in return for Colorado to get their end of the deal—the uncontrollable factor is whether or not Colorado can actually be a contender without one of the best players on the planet.
The silver lining in all of this is that the public will likely get a clear idea of the direction this Rockies franchise is headed based on what actually does transpire. Deal him for tenured major leaguers, and there’s slight optimism to contend. Deal him for an influx of prospects, and we know the extent of the rebuild.
You can’t just replace one of the greatest baseball players in the world, either—there’s an impending rebuild likely if he’s to be dealt, no matter what. A well-primed, MLB-tenured player(s) in return for Arenado may not be the ideal candidate for a .438 winning percentage in 2019.
This was from two weeks ago, but it further suggests the National League side of New York has been set on Colorado’s guy for longer than a few days. Say what you will about the hot takes of the New York Post, but this particular take remains appealing for the Mets in several ways they suggest.
One day these hot takes will be quieted by all, ladies and gentleman, and we’ll know the impending fate for Rockies faithful. Chris Owings breaks the monotony of these continued trade discussions, at least for one day this offseason.