Mailbag: Chone Figgins as UTIL?

Report: Yankees invite Wilson's agent to New York for meeting Wilson, agent ask to visit Yankees in New York
The Danks-Pettitte Comparison

Patrick writes: Recently the Mariners have said that they would throw in cash in a deal that would rid them of Chone Figgins. Because he can play second, third, and some outfield, is Figgins worth anything at all or even a look at this point?

As the Yankee off-season progresses and their needs — few and far between — come into view, it’s clear that Brian Cashman will look to rebuild a bench that has been a source of strength for the Yanks lately. The club has Eduardo Nunez and his amusingly inept defense penciled in as well as Francisco Cervelli, but every spot is up for the grabs. The Yanks could use a power bat, another infielder, someone with thump, someone with speed.

Enter the idea of Chone Figgins. Once upon a time, Figgins was a semi-decent player for the Angels whose production never matched his reputation. In two playoff series against the Yanks, he was terrible, going just 6 for 44, but during the regular season, he managed to hit a respectable .298/.365/.393 against the Bombers in his career. Before departing Anaheim for northern climes, he was a versatile defender who spent time at third, second and in the outfield.

Yet after posting a 99 OPS+ in eight seasons with the Angels and signing a front-loaded four-year, $36-million contract with the Mariners, things have utterly fallen apart. In two years spanning over 1000 plate appearances, Figgins has hit .236/.309/.285 with a sub-par 71 percent stole base rate and 95 walks over two seasons. He hit it big after posting over 100 bases on balls in 2009, the first and only time he reached that plateau, and the Mariners were foolish enough to grant him an outsized deal for his ages 32-35 seasons.

In Seattle, Figgins is essentially persona non grata. Fans of the team have given up on him, and Seattle management has as well. According to a recent report, the Mariners would offer cash to any team willing to take Figgins, the two years and the $17 million he is owed off their hands. Get yer spare washed-up one-time middle infielders here! Just $5 million a season! It’s a bargain.

Of course, the problem with Figgins as a potential solution for any team is his recent sheer lack of success. He’s been flat-out awful lately, and while his 2011 was marred by a .214 BABIP, he wasn’t particularly good in 2010 with a .314 BABIP. It’s not unexpected to see guys of his offensive profile out of the game by their age 34 season; it’s happened to players better than him. So he enters the final two years of the contract with a giant question mark surrounding his status. The Mariners must pay him, but can they turn him into anything useful?

For the Yanks to even take a chance on Figgins, the price would essentially have to be nothing. The Mariners could pay half his money and offer him up as a potential reclamation project. For just $4 million a year, try to tease something useful out of the ghost of Chone Figgins. To make it worthwhile, the Yanks would have to be satisfied with the answer to one question: Is Figgins $3.5 million better than Eduardo Nunez?

As much as I am skeptical of Nunez’s long-term viability, the answer is likely not. Nunez hit a lackluster .265/.313/.385 in far too many plate appearances — 338 to be exact — and he made 27 errors at short, second and third. But Nunez has youth and money on his side. He’ll be playing his age 25 season in 2012 and will make under $500,000. The Yanks once thought highly enough of him to keep him out of some high-profile trade talks so the club won’t just throw in the towel. Unless someone truly superior lands in the Yanks’ lap, Nunez, with his versatile as shaky as it may be, will be their guy.

As a non-roster invitee searching for a team, Figgins could be worth a look. But until the Mariners decide to cut their losses, he’s just a shell of a player who would have been a fine super utility guy four or five years ago. His days are likely over.

Report: Yankees invite Wilson's agent to New York for meeting Wilson, agent ask to visit Yankees in New York
The Danks-Pettitte Comparison
  • Jesse

    Unless Nunez was part of a trade to acquire a starting pitcher, then I’d say no with Figgins.

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    I don’t want any part of Figgins, but this is what the Yankees should be willing to do in order to move Burnett.

    • Jesse

      I like your thinking. A.J for Figgy. Sign me up.

      • Need Pitching

        hell no. I think he was referring to eating part of the contract, not a shit for shit trade. AJ for Figgins straight up is a loss for the Yankees.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Really? How? In pure dollars, Figgins is owed over two years what AJ is owed over one. There’s no way the Mariners would do Figgins for AJ without the Yanks’ kicking in a lot money.

          • Need Pitching

            Figgins is only a garbage bench player. AJ is at least a starter who eats innings (although generally lousy innings).
            Figgins adds no value to the Yankees. AJ at least gives starting pitching depth. I want AJ gone, but I wouldn’t take Figgins back for him.

            • Benjamin Kabak

              It’s hard to underscore how bad AJ has been. He’s basically been the worst pitcher in the AL with as many starts/innings as he’s thrown over the past 2 years. Even being an innings eater has its limitations if you’re going to be that bad.

              • Need Pitching

                and Figgins provides no value either. I think you could probably just trade AJ for a fringe prospect if they eat about 15M of his remaining salary and forget about Figgins. Why bother taking on Figgins contract??

                • Jesse

                  It’s not about getting Chone Figgins. It’s about getting rid of Burnett to open a rotation spot for a better starter. It’s easier to live with Figgins’ garbage play than it is with Burnett because Figgins would only be a part time player anyways. Plus, he does provide value. He’s versatile, and has speed.

                  • Benjamin Kabak

                    Was. He was verstaile and had speed. A significant part of the argument against Figgins is that he’s old and no longer has the skills that made him desirable a few years ago.

                    • Jesse

                      True. But I believe he still has more value than Burnett. But the same can be said about Burnett. Burnett used to be known as a starter with electric stuff. He’s just not that anymore.

                    • thenamestsam

                      Just to throw some numbers in here instead of just spitballing back and forth, a simple 3-2-1 weighting of the last three years has A.J. at 1.8 WAR next year and Figgins at .9 WAR, exactly half of that. To make things simple lets assume those projections for the next two years. At 5 MM per win, A.J. has a surplus value over the next two years of -15 million, and Figgins has a surplus value of only -8 million. So using that simple method, I’d say the Yankees would have to kick in some money or some kind of prospect.

                      Subjectively I’d rather keep A.J. then trade him in this kind of deal, because the cost savings are so minor by the Yankees standards, and I really do think Figgins might be completely cooked. I’m not even sure he could make the Yankees at this point.

              • http://none Favrest

                No, that’s John Lackey. AJ has more value than Figgins. He’s been bad, but more teams would take a chance on a head case with great stuff, than an overpaid utility player with no dominating skill anywhere.

      • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

        Err…that’s not really what I had in mind. Like Needs Pitching said, I was referring to eating the contract to move AJ. In other words, the Mariners are seemingly doing whatever it takes to move Figgins – the Yankees should be doing whatever it takes to move AJ. Eat the contract, throw in cash, whatever. Also, AJ is not completely broken like Figgins is and could perhaps throw together a few serviceable seasons in the NL.

  • bankers hours

    Figgins is shot. The only way they take him is if it helps get King Felix. Montero/Betances/Hughes/nunez for King Felix/Figgins. Keep dreaming. How about Swisher (could play 1st base) Joba and Betances for Cole Hamels. Philly needs a 1st baseman for one year and Swisher fits the bill, Joba helps their pen, and Betances is a project. The Yanks get a quality lefty for 1 year.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      How about I just name a bunch of random players and come up with some unrealistic trade proposals? Maybe we could package Cervelli, Nunez and Betances for Anibal Sanchez too. Realism is a good thing.

    • Need Pitching

      its going to take more than that to get Hamels

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    No on Figgins and stay with Nunez unless something better comes our way. Nunez has the youth and ability to improve with some semi regular playing time resting Arod, Jeter and some Cano.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Don’t do anything. Sit tight with what we have and let’s go to ST. Montero, healthy ARod, improved Tex, contract-year Swish, dynamiite bullpen.

    We have enough and should resist knee-jerk moves just to be active.

    Keep the chemistry, keep Freddy…

    maybe find a spot for DickerGolson

    • LarryM.,Fl.

      I agree with 99% of your comment and put a check mark next to Dickerson. This guy could be a pick plus if Girardi would find some AB’s for him especially for Swisher on occasion.

      • Ted Nelson

        Really? Cut Swisher’s PAs for Dickerson?

        • Monteroisdinero

          Not in 2012. I meant as a 4-5th outfielder. I like $wi$h in 2012.

          • Ted Nelson

            Was commenting on Larry’s “if Girardi would find some AB’s for him especially for Swisher on occasion.”

  • Bronx Byte

    No Figgins. Not a fit as a Yankee.

    He is what he is when he was.

  • theboogiedown

    In 2007 I thought he was about to become the face of the Angels’ frnachise. A .280 career BA that could play multiple positions, well. He really stunk up Seattle, thinking Scoscia knew something was wrong. Does anyone have an answer for the fantastic ’07 and, on whole, some solid years in Aneheim. Has he only really been healthy one season in his career? He was always pretty impressive against us during season play (pre-Seattle).

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    He is another of those guys that got old, young. Pass on that one.

  • Grover

    Unless Nunez is part of a package for a legitimate number two starter, I see no point in acquiring Figgins on the cheap. I do believe in deals of this nature though, and if something could be packaged around Hernandez, where taking on Figgins and maybe even Ichiro lowers Seattle’s haul, it could seriously improve the team. There are many expiring contracts and cheap free agents that do what Figgins does with DeRosa at the top of my list if he is finally healthy.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    Even in Nunez were to be involved in some sort of trade, the answer isn’t Figgins. I don’t see how he’d be a solid contributor off the bench at this point. He’d be the infield version of Randy Winn.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Figgins and Willie Randolph.


  • Ted Nelson

    “Figgins was a semi-decent player for the Angels whose production never matched his reputation.”

    He posted fWARs of 4, 3.2, and 6.9 the three seasons going into free agency (4.7 average). I don’t think that his reputation was ever better than that.

  • Greg c89

    Andruw Jones was really old and worthless in 2008.

    • Ted Nelson

      This is a decent point; however, Chone is still going to cost quite a bit in $ for a bench player getting limited playing time.

  • steve

    Cervelli has no place on this team,shocked u would bring him up as a roster spot at this point

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Even with the ingenious idea of getting Figgins and sending AJ in return, I still think I’d rather have AJ. Figgins is no better than Nunez, Nunez is younger and cheaper, and has the chance to get better, where Figgins has given Seattle nothing.

    Burnett is a headcase, but I still would rather a high reward starter who you already have and pay, than a redundant backup infielder.

    Interesting idea and a good usage of time to consider these proposals. But I disagree with the idea.

  • Ray R

    Spitballing…seems Seattle needs corner bats, preferably young and needs to dump Figgins. Why not send them Laird & Cervelli? Both are blocked here, and having Figgins as a 25th man certainly offers more than what the Yanks currently have.