The Boston Red Sox took a low profile risk signing infielder Chris Owings. So far, the results have been a wee bit disappointing.
John Lennon wrote a song “Give Peace A Chance” and maybe that should apply to give woe begotten Boston Red Sox infielder Chris Owings a chance. So far, Owings has done nothing to impress anyone except those on social media forming a get out-of-town and quick legion.
In 2014, Owings displayed enough as a rookie to oust Didi Gregorius in spring training, eventually leading to Gregorius being traded to the Yankees in the offseason. For Owings, the inaugural season in the majors was a blessing and a curse after a brief taste of The Show in 2013.
The blessing was a .261 average and a respectable 1.8 UZR/150 at shortstop. The curse was not hitting or defense, but a shoulder injury in June that eventually resulted in offseason surgery.
In 2015, Owings returned and showed some of the negativity he has displayed with Boston, hitting just .227 and striking out 144 times in 147 games. Owings spent most of his glovework time at second base with less than Gold Glove material in the stats department.
In 2016-17, Owings was back on track as far as potential and promise were concerned, hitting .277 and .268 and leading the majors in triples (11) in 2016. At 25-years-old, the versatile Owings could be an option at third, second, short, and the outfield. In both seasons, Owings lost time over a spate of injuries and then came the crash that brought Owings to Boston.
In 2018, Owings hit just .206 in 281 at-bats but managed the walk of shame 75 times after whiffing. There is always a market in baseball and the Royals took a chance and signed Owings to a $3 million free-agent contract. Owings rewarded their confidence by hitting .133 and getting the heave-ho from the lowly Royals. Boston pounced and signed Owings and shuffled him off to Pawtucket (AAA) where he hit .325 and slammed a surprising 11 home runs in just 163 at-bats.
The second base situation has been in a constant state of flux the last two seasons over the Dustin Pedroia knee miseries. Petey is again in rehab and the likelihood of a comeback is certainly low on the possibility index. But fear not, Boston has options with Michael Chavis, Marco Hernandez, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Brock Holt. All four have demonstrated a quality that Owings has not this season – hitting.
Teams take a risk and so far the risk of Owings is minimal and unfortunately, the reward has been non-existent unless you are thrilled by being a stand out in the International League, but don’t be dismissive of Owings. Maybe Pawtucket was a tease? Maybe it was the real Owings potential? Maybe the real Owings is what we have suffered through the last few weeks?
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Owings needs a nice trial of consistent playing time and so far that has been absent as the Red Sox remain clinging to the Wild Card ray of hope lifeline. As the season of futility winds down, give Owings a 10 to 15 game trial to see if he is worth pursuing in the offseason. Sometimes a player can resuscitate a career and Owings’ career is on life support. A substantial amount of playing time could get his career a pulse or a flatline.
Owings also plays into the versatility aspect of the Red Sox as he is capable of Holt-type moving around the diamond. Like Holt, expect Owings’ defense to be serviceable since his general glovework is in that category known as average. But with Holt a possible free agent, that dynamic is to consider with Owings.
With September call-ups in a few days, Owings is not pilfering a roster spot but could be taking assessment time away from a future Red Sox. That is a decision that management must weigh in the evaluation process. A tender line to walk.
At times the Red Sox move in strange and mysterious ways and occasionally they get lucky as they did with David Ortiz. Maybe Owings can get back to the Owings of three years ago, but that will be an unknown if Owings get a game a week. Otherwise, management bringing Owings in was just a waste to team and player.