When news came ’round the bend; news that the Mariners desired to move Chone Figgins, not a soul in Seattle Mariners Nation was surprised. Seattle was so willing to move the incumbent third basemen that they were practically waving wads of cash in the face of other GM’s. “Take him” we said. “We’ll throw in money…please?”. A couple of teams nibbled but ultimately Mr. Figgins is still wearing Mariner blue. The organization then came to a sobering realization, no one wants this version of Chone Figgins. No one wants this project. No one wants this no-bat-one-position disaster. No one wants this… not even for free.
The way the Mariners have handled Figgins this spring has been perplexing, unless you look at it through a particular scope. Seattle is desperately attempting to change the leagues opinion of Figgy. He was placed at edge of the driveway in a box marked “Free” and still not a soul would take him home. So the Mariners did what any salesperson would do, they slapped a new coat of paint on the product and are now selling it as new. Suddenly, Figgins has acquired a couple of shiny new labels: Leadoff hitter, super utility player, etc. Before he ever hit the field, his value has increased. If he can man multiple positions and be adequate defensively, then his bat doesn’t have to make a miraculous turn around, his value would be tied up in versatility and defense.
We’re going to stray from normality here for a moment and pretend that perhaps this stunt works. The move back to leadoff mimics some kind of voodoo magic and reanimates a long-since-deceased bat. Additionally Figgins works his way into the lineup at SS, 3B, 2B, CF, and LF, displaying comfortable aptitude at each position. The Mariners have finally developed interest in Figgins. But with whom? Looking forward to trade chaos 2012, which teams figure to take a particular interest in our shiny new player? Where should Figgins hire a real estate agent?
Cincinatti’s backup infield is a mess. Wilson Valdez? Miguel Cairo? They obviously have an affinity for former Mariner garbage. That of course has nothing to do with it and was a bad joke. A revitalized Figgins would offer a substantial upgrade from anything the Reds plan on putting out there right now. Figgins would also offer Cincinnati, a fall back plan in the event that Rolen or Phillips goes down via injury. Some sort of Olivo & Figgins (with salary relief) package for a B-level prospect or two might not be out of the question.
3B is a relative hole for the Mile High Crew. Sitting atop the depth chart is Jordan Pacheco, followed by Chris Nelson, and Jonathan Herrera. Don’t know them? Don’t worry, because I had to do a bit up research myself. The Rockies are high on Pacheco (no puns) and believe he is highly capable (no puns) of hitting major league pitching. He is a high contact guy (no puns!), who has played a couple of different positions including 2B and C. On top of the question marks at 3B, Colorado doesn’t exactly have a ton of insurance if an infielder succumbs to injury. Giambi can play 1B for Helton, but there would be some serious shuffling if anyone else in the infield got hurt. Insert Figgins here. Figgins can man 3B if they are dissatisfied with Pacheco, and he offers insurance of Scutaro or Tulo goes down. Figgins to the Rockies makes a lot of sense which is probably why they displayed they most interest this winter.
The team that could be most eyeing Figgins’ play up the middle this season could be the Bay Area Giants. Using the term shaky to describe the players up the middle for San Fran might be underselling it. Pagan is probably going to be just fine, and could be in for a nice rebound season. But, 2B and SS are two volatile areas for the Giants that could be the cause of some issues throughout the season. Figgins might look leagues ahead of Crawford and Burris just a couple months into the season. The Giants aren’t likely to offer much in return, but if the Mariners can get rid of his contract with only paying a limited amount, you would have to consider it a success.
This is it. If Figgins cannot rebound this season, he is a lost cause. There will be no new coats of paint, no new labels, nothing. The Mariners are making the right moves, now they just hope that the moves can pay some dividends and maybe, just maybe they can finally wash their hands of this contract. Freeing up this salary is nearly dire at this point. Zduriencik doesn’t have forever to post a winning season, and without significant strides forward in 2013, he could find himself unemployed. None of us want that. Freeing up Figgins’ money could be essential in bringing in a significant piece next offseason. Or perhaps it will be critical in signing one of our young stallions to a long term deal. His contract has to go, and if that means getting no warm bodies in return, that is a bullet Mariner fans are going to have to take.