The Pittsburgh Pirates were in the market for a veteran backup infielder. It looks like they may have found that specific type of player.
It was not very surprising to see the Pittsburgh Pirates move on from Kevin Newman. First and foremost, Ben Cherington has shown that he is more than willing to move on from the Huntington-era players. Also with Newman being in the arbitration process and projected to earn more money, it just made sense to move on from him.
At best Kevin Newman will be a good utility player. He can play multiple positions, but is a very light hitter. Over the last few years, he has averaged some of the lowest exit velocities by hitters. Newman was going to be owed about $3,000,000 for the 2023 season, a number that did not make sense for the small-market Pittsburgh Pirates.
Could they have financially afforded to keep Newman? Absolutely, but that does not mean it made sense, especially considering his lack of impactful production. So the question became who would the Pittsburgh Pirates utilize as their backup infielder?
Well, it looks like the Bucs have an answer for us, maybe. Yesterday, the team announced that they had come to an agreement on a Minor League deal with veteran infielder Chris Owings. Owings, like Newman was once regarded as a potential long-term option for the Arizona Diamondbacks but never lived up to his prospect status. He also received an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
Now Owings is mainly noted for his ability to play multiple positions. Since 2013, Owings has played significant innings at shortstop, second base, third base, and all three outfield positions. This includes the last two years in Colorado and Baltimore. The best bet for him to make the Pittsburgh Pirates team out of Spring Training is to be the backup middle infielder.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates want to utilize Ji-Hwan Bae as an outfielder then Owings even more so will have a path to playing time. The 31-year-old is a career .240 hitter but has seen his strikeout rate surpass 30%. Regardless, he is most likely a placeholder until further into the summer when the Super-2 date has passed and the team is ready to promote prospects.