Designated for assignment by Reds, should Micah Owings try hitting full time?

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Last night the Reds signed first-round pick Yasmani Grandal by giving him a $3 million bonus and a major-league contract, which includes a spot on the 40-man roster. Today that spot was cleared by designating Micah Owings for assignment.
Normally it isn’t news when a team cuts a 27-year-old pitcher with a 5.11 career ERA, but Cincinnati dropping Owings is noteworthy for a couple reasons. First, he once looked capable of being a solid mid-rotation starter and was arguably the centerpiece of the package the Reds received from the Diamondbacks for Adam Dunn.
Beyond that, Owings has made more headlines for his hitting than his pitching over the years, batting .293 with nine homers and a .538 slugging percentage in 198 career plate appearances. Despite that the Reds found just 14 at-bats for him this season while he appeared in 22 games as a pitcher.
Owings is 16-23 with a 5.59 ERA in 258 innings since a promising rookie season in 2007, so I wonder if he’ll decide to give up on pitching to focus on hitting. It couldn’t hurt, right? He’s posted an .861 OPS in what is admittedly limited and sporadic action as a hitter, which is good enough production to be a solid corner outfielder or first baseman, and he was a fantastic hitter in college.
And what is there to lose at this point? He’s proven to be a pretty marginal big-league pitcher and might have to put together a strong run at Triple-A just to resurface as a long reliever or fifth starter. At the very least Owings’ next team should give serious consideration to using him in a true hybrid role, like the Brewers did with Brooks Kieschnick not so long ago.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.