Diamondbacks’ infielder/outfielder Chris Owings is preparing for another defensive switch in 2017, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro writes. According to GM Mike Hazen, the 25-year-old will see some time in the outfield corners during spring training in order to provide the club with extra insurance in case of injury.
That strategy worked out well for the Diamondbacks in 2016, when Owings filled in for starting center fielder A.J. Pollock after Pollock suffered a season-ending elbow injury during spring training. It was a significant switch for Owings, who had previously only seen time in the middle infield over three seasons in the big leagues.
Per Piecoro’s report, Hazen envisions Owings in a Brock Holt-like role for the club, one that spans multiple infield/outfield positions. Ideally, Piecoro writes, he’d form a platoon with outfielder David Peralta against left-handed pitchers.
“I think there’s a lot of versatility on the roster, to be honest with you, and he’s fantastic at it,” Hazen said. “He was one of our best outfielders with no preparation last year. I think that speaks to his athleticism and skill. I would surprised if he went just about anywhere on the field and didn’t look pretty natural.”
Owings’ defensive flexibility should also afford him more at-bats in the lineup, something that appeals to Arizona management after watching his performance at the plate in 2016. Owings carried a .277/.315/.416 batting line with a career-best 21 stolen bases and 40 extra bases over 466 PA. The way Hazen sees it, keeping him on as the team’s everyday backup would allow them to preserve his bat in the lineup while looking to their Triple-A affiliate for extra support off the bench.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.
The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.
Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.
We wait see.
The Dodgers beat the Twins last night thanks to a Cody Bellinger three-run homer. But Bellinger was not the only Dodgers rookie who had a notable game. A far more unconventional one is worth mentioning as well.
That rookie is reliever Edward Paredes, who made his big league debut last night. What makes him unconventional: he’s 30. Turns 31 in September, actually. Paredes pitched professionally for 12 years before making it to The Show. Most of that time was in the affiliated minors in the Mariners, Indians, Angels and Dodgers organizations. He spent time in the independent Atlantic League in 2013-15 as well.
Paredes did not do anything heroic last night. It was more of a right place/right time kind of appearance, retiring the side in order with a fly out, line out and a ground out and remaining the pitcher of record while Bellinger hit that three-run homer. That’s enough for a W, though. A W that Paredes waited a lot longer for than most pitchers who notch one in the bigs.