Would You Trade for Chone Figgins?
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?