The Orioles announced they’ve designated utilityman Chris Owings for assignment. The move opens a spot on the active roster for newly-claimed righty Austin Voth. The designation also opens a vacancy on the 40-man roster, which now sits at 39.
Owings signed a minor league contract with Baltimore during Spring Training. He cracked the Opening Day roster, and he’s started 19 of the club’s 57 games while working in a utility capacity. The 30-year-old has tallied 68 plate appearances but hit just .107/.254/.143 while striking out 24 times in that limited look. The slow start squeezed him off the active roster, and Owings has more than enough service time to refuse an option to Triple-A, leaving the O’s to designate him for assignment.
The right-handed hitting Owings has never made much of an impact at the plate, carrying a career .239/.287/.366 line in just under 2500 MLB plate appearances. He’s nevertheless continued to earn opportunities on the strength of his defensive versatility and baserunning. Owings has appeared in each of the last ten big league seasons, settling into a depth role over the past few years after a run as a regular middle infielder early in his career with the Diamondbacks. The South Carolina native has experience all over the diamond, with the bulk of his work coming at second base, shortstop and in center field.
Baltimore will have a week to trade Owings or place him on waivers. Given his early-season struggles, it seems likely he’ll pass through waivers unclaimed and hit free agency — either via a release or rejecting an outright assignment to the minor leagues.
Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde also informed reporters (including Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun) the club is set to option right-hander Spenser Watkins to Triple-A Norfolk after reinstating him from the 15-day injured list. Watkins is tied for fourth on the team with eight starts, but he’s struggled to a 6.00 ERA across 30 innings. The 29-year-old has walked 15 batters while striking out 14, and the club recently welcomed Dean Kremer back from the IL for his season debut. Watkins, who has been out since late May due to an elbow contusion, will remain on the 40-man roster as a depth option.