One of the biggest Major League Baseball free agent busts in recent years, Chone Figgins should be cut loose by the Seattle Mariners, even if it means eating around $10 million that remains on his contract, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
It’s hard to mount a legitimate argument against Stone’s opinion. Figgins signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the Mariners following a 2009 season that saw him bat .298, post a .395 on-base percentage, steal 42 bases and walk 101 times. With the Mariners, his best season was his first with the team when he hit .259 with 42 stolen bases and a .646 OPS in 2010.
Over the last two years, the now 34-year-old Figgins has been relegated to a part-time role because of his ghastly numbers. Last season, he batted .188 with 11 stolen bases and a .484 OPS in 288 at-bats. In 2012, he has a .178 average, four stolen bases and a .512 OPS in 152 at-bats.
On a Seattle team that is in the midst of a major rebuilding project – and stuck with a lineup that is one of the worst in baseball – Figgins is clogging the payroll. He is owed $9 million this season and $8 million next year with a vesting option of $9 million in 2014 if he accumulates 600 plate appearances in 2013.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge calls Figgins a “super utility player.” Long known for his defensive versatility, the one-time All-Star who finished among the top 20 in American League Most Valuable Player of the Year voting three times with the Angels has seen action at all three outfield spots, third base and DH this season.
It makes sense for the Mariners to part ways with Figgins. They do not expect to contend next year and with a team average of .232, they are better than only two clubs in the majors – Tampa Bay (.230) and Oakland (.228). With the Rays and A’s are contending for post-season berths because of their pitching, Seattle is 51-60 and saddled with the third worst record in the American League.
With the Angels, Figgins was a dangerous tablesetter who batted .291 over eight seasons and once stole 62 bases (in 2005). He has a .227 average during his Mariners tenure, and he is no longer the stolen base threat of even a few years ago.
For Seattle to rebuild, it needs to give prospects and young Major Leaguers playing time. Since Figgins is no longer a tablesetter, the organization will just have to pay for him to play elsewhere.