After years of people wondering why Micah Owings didn’t attempt to become a full-time hitter after putting up good offensive numbers as a mediocre pitcher he may finally be ready to give it a shot.
Owings is currently on the disabled list with a forearm injury and once healthy might resume pitching, but in the meantime the Padres are on board with him getting regular reps as a hitter in the minors.
“I haven’t given up pitching, but I’m following my conviction to pick up a bat,” Owings told John Maffei of the North County Times. “The club is behind it, and I’m grateful for that. I’m not doing this because of the injury. I’m doing it because I have a passion for hitting and have the ability.”
Owings was an excellent hitter in college and has batted .283 with nine homers and an .813 OPS in 219 plate appearances as a big leaguer, although for whatever reason few managers have even used him as a regular pinch-hitter and he hasn’t logged more than 20 plate appearances in a season since 2009.
Toss in the fact that he’s limited to first base or an outfield corner defensively and has an ugly 72/8 K/BB ratio as a hitter and Owings is hardly a sure thing to produce enough to play regularly in the majors, but with a 4.86 career ERA and arm problems it’s certainly worth a try.
Not since Brooks Kieschnick has there been a legitimate pitcher/hitter in the majors, and if Owings can get healthy he’d seemingly be an asset in a true dual role.
The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”
While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.
The deal has not been confirmed by the team.