On Friday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies once again showed just how much the franchise values versatility.
According to a tweet from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Colorado Rockies inked veteran utilityman Chris Owings to a minor-league contract on Friday. The contract can become worth $1 million ($1.1 million per a report from Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post) should the 28-year-old Owings make the Major League roster.
Owings is very familiar with the National League West, spending his first six professional seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. During his time in the desert, he posted a .250/.291/.378 slash line in 2,302 plate appearances. He also spent time at second base, shortstop and outfield with the Diamondbacks.
Last season, however, he struggled while splitting time between the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. Our own @SABRSkeptic pointed out just how much Owings struggled, comparing him to a Rockies player who has been under the microscope ever since he arrived in Denver.
In the 2018 and 2019, Chris Owings posted an fWAR of -1.5.
— The Sabermetric Skeptic (@SABRSkeptic) January 3, 2020
So why did the Rockies make this move? The simple answer is that it’s a minor league deal that can’t harm them if Owings can’t find his footing in spring training or the early part of the season. If, however, he can rebound and show some of the spark he did during his days in Arizona (and some of those moments came against the Rockies, a team he posted a .343/.383/.542 slash line against in 74 career games, the highest against any opponent), he could become a veteran bat off the bench in a role the Rockies kept hoping Pat Valaika would grab and Garrett Hampson could well be suited for this season after a strong September.
It’s also yet another low-risk, high-reward signing in an offseason where that has been the franchise’s theme. Owings joins pitchers Jose Mujica and Tyler Kinley as signings that have gone mostly under the radar this offseason but could (and yes, “could” is the key word here) pay dividends this season.
Will Owings battle Hampson and Brendan Rodgers for a roster spot in 2020? Will Colorado’s gamble pay off? We’ll find out as spring training begins in mid-February. We will be there to bring you the latest from Scottsdale.