I’ve written about Micah Owings a few times recently (these are called “slow news days”) and each time suggested that he might have a brighter future as a hitter than as a pitcher at this point.
Apparently the Diamondbacks and new general manager Kevin Towers agree, because after signing Owings to a minor-league contract yesterday they plan to give him some time at first base during spring training.
Owings has hit .293 with nine homers and a .538 slugging percentage in 198 career plate appearances (while posting a 5.11 ERA in 410 innings), but he’s never actually started a game anywhere but pitcher.
Here’s how Towers described his potential role in Arizona:
I would imagine he’ll see a little bit of time at first base, how much time I can’t tell you. I know we definitely want to get him some at-bats. He is kind of a dual-weapon guy. It would be nice to have a guy who on the days he may not be pitching you would still have a very good right-handed bat to win a game for you.
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out for Owings in spring training, because he probably has more value as a hitter who can also pitch some low-leverage innings than as a pitcher with a good bat. Technically he’ll be competing for a long relief job.
Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.
Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.
Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.
Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.
Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.
Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.