November 21, 2012 by Matt Musico
When Chone Figgins decided to sign a four-year/$36 million contract before the 2010 season to join the Seattle Mariners, the organization had visions of him and Ichiro Suzuki being the ultimate table setters up in the Pacific Northwest. Figgins was coming off a year in which he hit .298/.395/.393 with 114 runs scored, 42 stolen bases, and a league-leading 101 walks. In his eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he put together a career line of .291/.363/.388, but his production fell off the face of the earth once he arrived at Safeco.
In three unsuccessful seasons in Seattle, Figgins hit .227/.302/.283 before getting designated for assignment this week. What happened to him? He was a utility-type player that could play both the infield and outfield, while providing speed at the top of the lineup. The old adage is speed never slumps, which is true, but it doesn’t help when the player with speed can’t get on base. Seattle GM John Zduriencik said Figgins became an “expendable piece” as he and other GMs are setting their 40-man rosters to protect certain players from the Rule 5 draft. Figgins was due to make $8 million in 2013 and had a $9 million option for 2014 on the table. He only hit .188 in 2011 and ended up being a part-time player by the time May rolled around when he was hitting at the same clip this past season after beginning it as a starter.
This the same situation as what happened with Jason Bay and the Mets, except the Mariners will have to pay Figgins $8 million salary by the end of 2013. It’s amazing how a player can be productive for his entire career, and then completely go south the very next season with a different team. I certainly hope a team will take a chance on Figgins, who will be turning 35 in January. Hopefully a change of scenery will help him be productive again; at his age, his best days are behind him, but he can still be a valuable player for a team off the bench. We’ll see who takes a chance on him.