Seattle Mariners: Is Chone Figgins on His Way out of the Lineup?

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent IMay 4, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 22:  Chone Figgins #9 of the Seattle Mariners heads back to the dugout after striking out in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field on April 22, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The White Sox defeated the Mariners 7-4. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Despite his versatile defensive skills, Chone Figgins may be in his last season as a Seattle Mariner for obvious reasons.

After a hot start—nine hits in his first 25 at-bats—Figgins' .303 average on April 12 has sunk to an ugly .189 as of last night.

Given his struggles at the plate (he has a lowly .250 OBP), Figgins hasn't been able to utilize his speed, collecting only two stolen bases, simply not enough for a guy who swiped 62 bags in 2005.

In 13 out of the 25 games in which Figgins has appeared so far in 2012, he has gone hitless, and currently has just one hit in his last 23 ABs.

As a career .279 hitter, this is a little startling for both Figgins and the 11-16 Mariners, who signed the 10-year veteran to a four-year, $36 million deal in December 2009.

Figgins was decent in his first season in Seattle, playing in all but one game, and finishing the season with a .259 average and 42 stolen bases, which ranked tied for sixth in the MLB in 2010.

But since then, Figgins has been nothing but a disappointment for the M's, as he played in just 81 games in 2011 due to a right hip injury.

As Jason Churchill of ESPN Insider (Insider access required) writes, Seattle has younger options like Alex Liddi, Casper Wells, Mike Carp and Kyle Seager to replace Figgins, who has played left field, center field and third base for the Mariners

After playing in just 53 games his rookie season, Seager has been impressive in the early going of 2012.

The 24-year-old third baseman is sporting a .289 average with three homers and 11 RBI, which ranks third on the team behind newcomer Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders.

Fellow third baseman Alex Liddi has made the most of his at-bats, collecting 13 hits in 44 ABs (.295), hitting two home runs and driving in five runs. At the age of 23, Liddi has a bright upside with the Mariners.

Right fielder Casper Wells has yet to really gain valuable experience at the plate—only 25 ABs on the young season—but the 27-year-old should be seeing more time in left field.

25-year-old first baseman Mike Carp appeared in 79 games for Seattle last season, slugging 12 HR and driving in 46 runs while hitting .276, but has missed extensive time in 2012 due to a shoulder injury suffered in the season-opening game in Japan.

Given the young talent the M's possess, Figgins days in Seattle could very well be numbered, especially with Franklin Gutierrez returning in late May or early June.

By the time the All-Star break rolls around, we could see Figgins on the trading block or designated for assignment.

Seattle would owe the 34-year-old Figgins $15 million through next season, which stings for Seattle, but sooner or later, they have to bite the bullet and remove the slumping veteran from the lineup.

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