Assuming he passes the physical, Chone Figgins is now a Mariner. The deal is 4 years, $36 million dollars, with a vesting option for the 5th year, of which the details are still unclear. This means a few things for this Mariners club – we have our third baseman, we have approximately $9 million less to work with this off season, and we’ve made a significant improvement to our offense.
No, Figgins is not going to hit home runs for us, but he’s going to draw a lot of walks, he’s going to get on base a ton, and he’s going to steal a lot of bases. You don’t have to add power to a lineup to improve it. One of the Mariners biggest problems in 2009 was an inability to draw walks and get on base. Now, I love Adrian Beltre, but he certainly wasn’t helping that cause, and replacing him with a player like Figgins can only be an improvement.
There will probably be a slight drop off defensively from Beltre to Figgins, but the offensive improvement should more than make up for that. The fact is, as a right handed power hitter, Safeco Field killed Adrian Beltre’s offense – Chone Figgins doesn’t hit home runs anyway, so he should be just fine.
Don’t get overly excited about Figgins defense – yes, he put up a ridiculous 16.7 UZR at third base in ’09, but when you look at his career trends, it’d be silly to expect a repeat performance. Something in the 5-10 range is much more realistic. The same goes for his WAR. At 6.1 in 2009, he was one of the most valuable players in baseball – the imminent drop in defensive value alone will do a lot to bring that number back down to Earth. However, in all likelihood, we’re still getting at least a 3-4 win player.
As for the contract, for the most part, I like it. As Dave Cameron points out, it’s not as efficient as it could be in terms of dollars per win, but we aren’t coming anywhere near the overpayment zone. We’re still going to get pretty good value for our money. The only part of the deal that concerns me, is the 2014 vesting option – the idea of having $9 million committed to a 36 year old Chone Figgins isn’t real attractive. However, I won’t really be able to decide how I feel about the option until I know the specifics, so until further notice, I have no problems with it.
All in all, this is a real good signing, and a great first step towards contending in 2010.