Would You Trade for Chone Figgins?

Quick question: if you were the Mets GM, and the Mariners offered you Chone Figgins for Luis Castillo, would you pull the trigger?

Better yet, if the Mariners agreed to also take on some or most of the contract of Oliver Perez, would you do it?

Be careful what you wish for.

For those who don’t follow the “other” league (the one that plays an experimental version of baseball), during last winter the Mariners signed Chone Figgins to a 4-year, $36M contract that includes a fifth-year, $9M vesting option if Figgins gets 600 plate appearances in 2013. To say that Figgins has been a disappointment in Seattle thus far would be an understatement. He was hitting below .220 as late as June, and a recent hot streak has pushed his season average to .254. His move from 3B to 2B has been underwhelming, and he’s had trouble adapting to the #2 spot in the order behind Ichiro. Further, he has shown occasional lapses in effort, which led to getting bench by since-fired manager Don Wakamatsu and resulted in fisticuffs in the dugout with Wakamatsu — all recorded by TV cameras.

The embarrassed Mariners have fired Wakamatsu, and one must think they will at least consider finding a new home for Figgins — if one can be found. Rumors have suggested that the Braves and Ms were talking about a Figgins trade, and most recently, the Mets were said to be “in talks” with the Mariners. Which begs the question: would the Mariners take on Castillo, and possibly Perez, in return for Figgins?

Of course they would. Figgins has another 3 years and $26M left, while Castillo and Perez have one year left and $18M combined. The Mariners would rid themselves of a very big headache, take on two contracts that expire in a year, and get the added bonus that maybe one or both of the new additions rebound as a result of the change in scenery.

And then the Mets would have 3 more years — possibly 4, if the option kicks in — of a switch-hitting, quickly aging, overpaid second baseman whose primary skill is tied to his legs. Sound familiar?

Figgins right now could be Luis Castillo circa 2008. If you remember, Castillo signed that crazy 4-year deal after spending 50 games in a Mets uniform in 2007. He began 2008 as a 32-year-old with nagging leg injuries. Without his legs, he couldn’t steal bases and his range in the field suffered. The only skill he had left was the ability to draw a walk, which is fairly useless in any spot in the order other than leadoff or #2. Compare that to Figgins, who is now 32. His legs seem to still be there — he has stolen 30 bases — but for how much longer? And what happens when the legs go? He doesn’t hit for power, and his already average range would quickly drop to below-average.

Even if his legs are fine, where do you put him in the lineup? Not leadoff, since Jose Reyes is there, and certainly not #2, because Angel Pagan is flourishing in that spot — and, if Figgins couldn’t adjust to hitting second in Seattle’s order, why would he be able to do it in New York? So that leaves the #8 spot. How effective will Chone Figgins be batting eighth, ahead of the pitcher? I guess he’d be OK, getting on base, stealing second, and being bunted to third, but are his skills best used down there?

My feeling is that if the Mets were to dump contracts for Figgins, they’d wind up with exactly what they had two years ago: an overrated, overpaid second baseman with a quickly diminishing and limited skillset. And, they’d be locked into that albatross for another three or four years.

What do you think?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Dustin August 10, 2010 at 7:06 am
    Thank you for exploring this issue.. I think a lot of us hear “trade Perez/Castillo” and get unreasonably excited. When you put it in perspective like this, it really makes you think hard about any potential trade.. and that it might just be better to deal with these terrible contracts for one more year rather than try to trade them away. I’d still rather release them and free up roster spots, though.
  2. Paul August 10, 2010 at 7:22 am
    The only reason to make that trade is if the Mets really need the 2011 payroll flexibility that they’d gain.
  3. Laurence Smith August 10, 2010 at 8:28 am
    I think the Mets might make a trade like that only if it was revenue neutral or close to it. That means the M’s would have to kick in something like $5 to $8 million. If they agreed to do that I could see a deal getting done. Figgins is not very good but has alternated better years with worser ones for the last five years. Maybe he’s due to be OK in 2011.
  4. Mic August 10, 2010 at 8:28 am
    CPT KIRK!!!!!!!!!

    http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/08/89-minor-league-report-nieuwenhuis-wilmer-santomauro-tovar-almonte-aderline.html

    On Chone Figgins: Too many fans wanted him last offseason…why not now? especially at 2B as a #2 hitter ala that all-star guy in Atl.

    I predict Pelfrey, Beltran, Castillo, Barajas AND Perez are gone this winter giving that flexibility (somewhat).

  5. gary s. August 10, 2010 at 8:58 am
    any team with a competent front office would have released castillo and perez months ago and moved on.maybe the wilnots could put isiah thomas on the books as a consultant and get his opinion on your idea..has anyone ever seen a picture with jim dolan and fred wilpon in it?i’m beginning to think it’s the same person..
  6. Anthony August 10, 2010 at 9:31 am
    I have no interest in Figgins; he is Luis Castillo. If we wanted him we could’ve signed him this off-season, which I was completely against then as well.

    No need to add years and more money to another aging player.

  7. Andy August 10, 2010 at 10:30 am
    Yeah, the parallels are eerie.
  8. Drew August 10, 2010 at 11:00 am
    I’d rather see the Mets fill 2nd base with a Kelly Johnson or Eckstein type 2nd baseman vs. take on Figgins contract. Platoon Tejada, I love his range, defense and energy he brings. Offensively a work in progress.

    We obviously need a #2 starter to align with Santana, Niese will be a perfect # 3, Pelf #4 and Dickey #5.

    Easier said than done but wouldn’t mind them parting with Beltran in a sign and trade for Carl Crawford (even if the Mets have to pay for some of Beltran’s contract). Better offer to the Rays than losing Crawford to the Yanks and getting nothing.

    I’m a HUGE fan of Pagan but would be willing to part ways if we could get a slugger that can drive 35-40 hrs to play RF.

    Castillo and Perez must GO!

    Wishful thinking but anything is possible.

  9. Rich Morey August 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm
    I don’t want Figgins but I’d like to see both Castillo and Perez elsewhere. I agree with others here who have suggested just releasing the two of them to open up roster spots.
  10. Mic August 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm
    I as usual have the other other point (where is isuzu?)

    1. Trade for Chone: dump Castillo and Ollie: Chone drops in at #2. I dont have numbers but that opens up a pitching spot.

    2. Trade Beltran: Sorry but Beltran is still a top CFer. I think he is tradeable and the Reds, Bosoxx, Texas, Angels and other pretenders could overpay RIGHT NOW to get his bat which could get hot at anytime. Plus one yr committment? that is hardly worrisome to a big market team.

    3. We just happen to have one Angel Pagan, who might now be better (because of Beltrans injuries).

    4. Missed oppurtunity. I would have traded Ollie for Zambrano straight up. THEN trade Pelfrey for prospects.
    Then Z and Santana head my rotation (R-L), then Niese and RA. then Tak or Dillon Gee fow in the 5th spot.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/sports/baseball/10mets.html?_r=1

  11. Steve from Norfolk August 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm
    How about batting Figgins/Castillo in the 9th spot and batting the pitcher 8th? Works for LaRussa!