The Kansas City Royals signed Chris Owings to a contract on December 5, but the might have pulled the trigger a little too soon.
Chris Owings deal is a one year, three million dollar deal, which is not bad by any means. It just seems that based on recent trends the Kansas City Royals could have gotten a more productive utility man at a much cheaper price.
The plan is to use Owings all around the infield to the point where he will be getting regular at-bats. It seems the Royals are going to try to get every bit of the money they owe him, if not more.
Owings has played in 580 games over his career and accumulated a career fWAR of 1.2. It was higher before his -0.8 performance from a year ago. There is no doubt that the Royals wanted him for his defensive versatility.
There are plenty of defensively versatile players though. The gold standard for super utility this offseason was Marwin Gonzalez, who recently signed with the Twins. He can play everywhere, just like Owings, and was worth 1.6 fWAR just last year. His contract is worth 21 million dollars over two years.
Or, take Josh Harrison who just signed with the Tigers. He was worth 0.3 fWAR thanks to an injury that shortened his season to 97 games. In his last healthy year, he played 128 games an was worth 2.6 fWAR. He struck a one year deal worth two million dollars.
Being able to play all around the infield is very helpful, but it seems that if the Kansas City Royals wanted to , they could have waited to get a better option for cheaper. Jose Iglesias has a very good glove and is still unsigned.
Even at his peak, a strong defensive option is all he ever was. The bat has never been Owings strong suit. However, he has run into some pretty good money anyway.
The answer is yes, the Royals could have gotten a more productive player for cheaper. But the thing is that no one could have predicted this free agent market. No one would have guessed that Bryce Harper would remain unsigned as teams are getting set to play their Spring Training openers.
At this point, it becomes a matter of why risk it? These players signing for cheaper did not start at these prices, they needed to settle at them. This time the wait and see game paid off for teams, but that was not a guarantee.
The Kansas City Royals have a versatile defender at a cheap cost. They succeeded in their end goal. Cheaper or not, no one is going to complain about three million dollars. And if they want to, Owings is gone at season’s end.