The Pirates announced a series of non-roster invitations to spring training today, revealing within that they’ve signed veteran utilityman Chris Owings to a minor league pact. The ACES client will be in camp and vie for a bench job.
Owings is still just 31 but has appeared in each of the past 10 big league seasons, suiting up for the D-backs, Royals, Red Sox. Rockies and Orioles along the way. He spent the 2022 season with the Yankees and Orioles organizations, getting into 27 big league games with Baltimore but posting just a .104/.254/.143 batting line in 68 trips to the plate. That’s the opposite end of the small-sample spectrum from a similarly brief 2021 run with the Rockies, for whom he slashed a ludicrous .326/.420/.628 in 21 games/50 trips to the plate.
Overall, Owings is a career .239/.287/.366 hitter with 37 big flies and 79 steals through 712 big league games (2464 plate appearances). He’s played every position on the field, including 2 2/3 innings on the mound, although the bulk of his time in the big leagues has been spent at shortstop. Defensive metrics have never loved him at that spot, but Owings has average or better ratings at second base, at third base and in the outfield.
The left side of the Pirates’ infield is set with youngsters Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz at third base and shortstop, respectively. Rodolfo Castro, Ji Hwan Bae and prospect Nick Gonzalez (who’ll be in camp as a non-roster player) are in the mix for the second base slot. One of Castro or Bae could land a utility job on the bench, too, though it’s likely Gonzalez head to Triple-A for everyday reps, barring an upset win of the everyday job at second. The versatile Owings will join that competition for a utility spot off the bench. Owings is a lifetime .308/.347/.480 hitter in Triple-A, so he’ll likely give the Bucs some production in the upper minors if he can’t break the roster this spring.