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It seems that Chris Owings will continue to appear in trade rumors until the Diamondbacks make a decision regarding his role in 2014.
While there isn’t a specific team actively pursuing the 22-year-old, there’s roughly a handful of clubs that would jump at the opportunity to land the cost-controlled shortstop.
Bowden suggests that the A’s could upgrade their shortstop situation for 2014 by dealing for Owings:
The A’s only real weakness right now is second base, where Alberto Callaspo and Nick Punto are expected to share the position. Both players are probably better suited for the utility roles. However, the A’s can clearly solve the problem by moving Jed Lowrie from shortstop to second base, which arguably is his best defensive position. Of course, that means they must trade for a better defensive shortstop.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have two solid, young shortstops in Owings and Gregorius, and they would prefer to keep Owings because he is a better hitter.
Of course Bowden completely fails to mention Addison Russell, Oakland’s top prospect and 2012 first-round draft pick, who posted an .885 OPS with 56 extra-base hits last season as a 19-year-old in the High-A California League. Russell is expected to open the 2014 season at Double-A Midland, and if all goes well, he’ll take over as the A’s everyday shortstop by season’s end.
Anyway, back to Owings.
Despite his struggles at Double-A Mobile during the second half of the 2012 season, the Diamondbacks still promoted Owings to Triple-A Reno for the 2013 season. Facing advanced competition, the 22-year-old thrived as one of the younger everyday players at the level and quietly emerged as one of the better up-the-middle prospects in the minors.
Owings posted video-game numbers at Reno, batting .330/.359/.482 with 180 hits, 51 extra-base hits (12 home runs), 81 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 125 games. As a result of his success, he was named both the Rookie of the Year and MVP of the Pacific Coast League and was subsequently called up to the major leagues by the Diamondbacks.
Appearing in 20 games over the final month of the regular season—most of his playing time came once Arizona was eliminated from the playoff race—Owings held his own with a .742 OPS, five doubles and 10-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61 plate appearances.
Although he lacks a plus attribute, Owings has the potential for five average or better tools at maturity. At 5’10”, 180 pounds, the right-handed hitter has a direct bat path and knack for barreling the ball. The power potential may be the most surprising aspect of his game; he generates impressive extension after contact that enables him to generate considerable backspin carry. However, his approach is still too aggressive, and it has the potential to be exploited against advanced pitching.
With two major league shortstops in Didi Gregorius and Owings, the Diamondbacks could theoretically afford to trade either player this offseason, presumably in return for an established starting pitcher. Owings has more trade value given his age, years of team control and overall offensive potential, and he could be used to land a frontline starter should the Diamondbacks not sign Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana and/or Matt Garza.