Back in the middle of June, the Red Sox made a minor-league signing that caught our attention not so much because we saw a ton of potential for major-league help but more because, well, it was a name we (read: I) recognized. That’s generally enough for a minor-league signing to make a ripple in my dumb brain. That signing was Chris Owings, who was called up by the Red Sox prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Angels. To make room on the active roster, Hector Velázquez was optioned back to Pawtucket. Room also needed to be made on the 40-man roster, which was done with Steve Pearce being moved to the 60-day injured list.
In the linked post above I stated chances were that Owings would not make an impact on the 2019 Red Sox, but there was at least a glimmer of hope that he could provide lightning in a bottle. Folks, this is what lightning in a bottle looks like. The former Diamondbacks and Royals utility player started the year in the majors with Kansas City and was dreadful, putting up a 6 wRC+ (not a typo!) in 145 plate appearances. After being released and subsequently signed by the Red Sox, Owings has torn up Triple-A to the tune of a .325/.385/.595 slash line with a 144 wRC+.
No one expects that to continue in the majors, but it’s worth noting he has been a solid bench piece in the majors before who can hit in the 90 wRC+ range with defensive versatility and speed. The Red Sox could use any spark they can find and Owings has certainly earned another shot at the highest level. One interesting point to make here is that, to me anyway, Owings could have been an interesting trade chip this month to a contending team looking for infield depth. He wouldn’t have brought back a super interesting prospect, but a lottery ticket type could have been in play given his past success as a depth option and torrid stretch in Pawtucket. However, starting this year major-league players (i.e. those on a 40-man roster) cannot be traded after July 31, so that type of move is off the table.
As for the rest of the transactions above, it’s not super interesting. Velázquez is a mop-up guy who has not been very good in that role this year. He imploded on Saturday, and it doesn’t help that Ryan Weber is also on the major-league roster filling that same role with much better production. This move does push the pitching staff back to 12 guys, and personally I am thrilled to see a full bench again. Having three position players on the bench has been far from the team’s biggest issue, but we’ve seen some flexibility issues throughout the season when one or two guys are a little banged up. It hampers the manager.
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