The Royals are only guaranteeing Owings $3 million, plus $500,000 in incentives. The plus with Owings is his positional versatility. While Whit Merrifield holds down second base and Adalberto Mondesi holds down shortstop for the Royals, Owings is a plus in the outfield. In 2018, he was worth +10 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield, with 5 DRS in right field in only 314 innings, 4 DRS in center with only 109 innings (!), and 1 DRS in 26 left field innings. He’s definitely a plus in the outfield.
There’s also a chance Owings plays some third base - not a position he’s played much in the major leagues - although he can handle it. Hunter Dozier is the Royals’ best third base option, and he’s not exactly lighting the world on fire. The Royals have four decent outfielders: Alex Gordon, Brian Goodwin, Brett Phillips, and Jorge Soler. So, it seems third base is his most clear route to playing time.
Steamer projects Owings for a .252/.300/.378 batting line, 10 stolen bases, essentially neutral defense, and 0.4 WAR. These are basically in line with his career averages, although he could be more of a plus on defense - especially if he plays mostly in the outfield. 2018 was not kind to his usually solid second base defense and his typical below average play at shortstop. The Royals paid the market rate for Owings if he matches his projection - which is hardly a bad thing.
Of course, being a rebuilding team - or a team that should be rebuilding - Owings is a fine fit. Of course, there’s ongoing speculation that Whit Merrifield will be traded at some point. Merrifield is still making the league minimum in 2019, followed by three years of arbitration, making him one of the most valuable trade chips in all of baseball. So, Owings can hold down second base in that case - although he is a massive downgrade - if the Royals decide to go in that direction.
Royals fans should hope that they are going the route of the Twins and Tigers in picking up players on buy-low contracts to hopefully catch lightning in a bottle. Owings doesn’t strike me as the trade chip type, although he could have value to a competitive team needing a glove-first guy with some speed off of the bench. In any case, it’s a respectable move.