Yankees sign reserve infielder to minor league contract

Chris Owings, yankees
May 20, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman Chris Owings (11) reacts to being tagged out a home plate during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees’ dominance doesn’t mean the general manager Brian Cashman needs to stop finding quality reserve players who can mitigate fatigue down the road.

Every now and then, Cashman finds a gem that can serve a specific purpose. On Saturday, the Bombers signed infielder Chris Owings to a minor league deal, according to Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune.

What is Owings bringing to the Yankees?

At 30 years old, Owings has 10 years of MLB experience in the MLB. He hosts a career .239 batting average, .287 on-base percentage, and .366 slugging. His wRC+ (158) was incredible in 2021 over 21 games with Colorado, a small sample size.

This season, Owings has made 27 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles, slashing .107/.254/.143 in 68 plate appearances. Overall, his batting metrics have deteriorated significantly, but he’s been historically solid at getting on base. He has shown a bit more patience at the plate in recent years, earning a walk percentage of 14% or better.

Owings actually makes solid contact, with a 42.9% hard-hit rate in 2021 and a 14.3% barrel rate. If he can increase his launch angle a bit, there’s potential for him to find more power in his bat. He’s only hit a career-high 12 homers back in 2017 with Arizona, suggesting he’s not known for his slugging capabilities.

However, Owings did steal 21 bases back in 2016, displaying great running and athleticism. His real value comes in the form of defensive versatility, playing second base, third base, shortstop, and left field for Baltimore this year before joining the Yankees. Having utility men is never a bad move, especially when the team wants to mitigate fatigue down the stretch.

If Owings can increase his on-base rate to about 30% and maintain his walk percentage, he could be a valuable piece to help provide days off for DJ LeMahieu and even fill in as an outfielder from time to time.

This could end up being a valuable signing for the Yankees, especially if they go through any injury adversity in the coming weeks.

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