Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that the Nationals have granted Micah Owings his release after he opted out of his minor league contract with the club.
After posting a 4.86 ERA over six seasons between the Diamondbacks, Reds, and Padres, Owings made the switch from pitcher to full-time position player this season. The 30-year-old was batting .265/.305/.480 with eight home runs, 31 RBI and a 71/10 K/BB ratio over 213 plate appearances with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate. He made 30 starts in left field, two in right field and 21 out of the designated hitter spot.
Owings was already considered a good hitting pitcher and the pop he has displayed in the minors is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but that plate discipline isn’t pretty. While it sounds like he could have a lead on a promising situation elsewhere, one wonders if he would be more interesting to a major league club if he still pitched a little.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.