Detroit Tigers Asked Diamondbacks About Chris Owings, Cliff Pennington Would Make More Sense


Sep 16, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings (16) fields the ball during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Detroit Tigers reached out to the Arizona Diamondbacks to inquire about rookie shortstop Chris Owings.

According to the tweet, the talks didn’t progress very far, and that makes a ton of sense. Owings appears to be the leading candidate to win the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop job, he’s young, and he’s cost controlled. In short: Arizona would seem to be in a hurry to jettison him, and the Tigers probably aren’t willing (or able) to pay the premium required to land a potential future star.

It just doesn’t seem to be a good fit. Even if Jose Iglesias has to miss most of the 2014 season — or even all of it — he should be just fine to hold down the job from 2015-2020. What the Tigers need (if anything) is a band-aid to slap on for the first two-to-six months of the regular season.

I mean, it would be nice to land a potential future stud like Owings — he probably has a brighter overall future than even Iglesias does — but what is the team going to do in two-to-six months (or whatever) when Iglesias is healthy again? Nick Castellanos will hopefully lock down third base for the next six years and Ian Kinsler is under contract for at least the next four years so it’s not like they can just slide some of these guys around. They could try to trade someone, but Iglesias’ value won’t be at it’s peak coming off an injury, and Kinsler’s contract could be difficult to move in his decline year. Neither would be impossible to move, but the chain of transactions would probably be an overall net negative in terms of organizational value.

The member of the Arizona Diamondbacks that might make more sense for the Tigers to chase would seem to be veteran utility man Cliff Pennington. Pennington is slated to be a bench player for Arizona and has rated as an above average defender at the shortstop position in his career (by both UZR and DRS). He’s going to turn 30 in June, so his defense is almost certainly on the decline, but as a one-year fix he should be more than adequate with the glove.

Pennington wouldn’t hit very much — Steamer projects a 77 wRC+ — but it’s a better projection than any of the Tigers’ internal options (namely Danny Worth, Eugenio Suarez, and Hernan Perez), and it’s the exact same projection as given to Iglesias himself (again, all according to Steamer). If ZiPS projections are more your thing, you’d find that Pennington and Stephen Drew both project to be 1.5-ish WAR players in 2014.

Pennington is signed for just the one more year (2014) at a rate of $2.75 million, and it wouldn’t take a crazy prospect package to land him at all. This seems more like the guy the Tigers should be chasing, not pre-arb players who are cheap in terms of dollars but expensive to acquire in terms of minor league talent.