Chone Figgins: Free Agent at Season's End

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Chone Figgins: Free Agent at Season's End
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

 

Over the years, Chone Figgins has proven this: when he's healthy, he's a beast. And thankfully for Figgins, he has avoided the injuries that have plagued him in the past and he's been able to stay on the field.

The 2009 season has been one of his best to date. So far in 2009, Figgins leads the AL in runs scored and triples, and ranks fourth in stolen bases. Figgins made his first All-Star team in 2009 and seems to have set himself up nicely for a free agent contract this offseason.

 

The Case for Figgins

1) Speed

Speed has always been the trademark of Figgins' game. In every season since 2004, Figgins has stolen at least 30 bases and led the league in steals in 2005. In addition, Figgins stolen base total would have been higher over the years if not for a series of injuries that cut short his production.

2) Gets on base

Figgins is the stereotypical lead-off hitter. Not only does he have speed, but Figgins knows how to draw walks and produce a high on base percentage. He is currently fifth in the AL in walks and has an impressive .401 OBP that has propelled the Angels offense this season. Figgins is a major reason why the Angels have played well even without Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter for extended periods of time.

3) Defense

For so long, Figgins was thought of by the Angels as a super utility player, a guy who should be in the lineup, but without a set position. But since Figgins has become the Angels starting third baseman, his defense has been on the upswing. In 2007, Figgins UZR/150 at third base was a putrid -6.1, but just two years later, Figgins UZR/150 was an impressive 11.2. Whichever team signs Figgins should be assured that Figgins will play a sparkling third base.

The Case against Figgins
1) Can he stay healthy?

This is the question that has to be asked when talking about Chone Figgins simply because Figgins failed to play in more than 120 games in '07 and '08. It's a promising sign that Figgins has not missed time this year, but his past injury history has to at least be in the discussion.

2) Power

In most cases, you would expect a good amount of power from your corner infielders. However, Chone Figgins should never be confused for a power hitter. If Figgins hits more than a handful of home runs every year, then that would be a lot. Whichever team signs Figgins will have to find power from other sources to compensate for the lack of power at third base.


Competition
The good news for Figgins is that he enters the free agent market in a year where there are no other stud third basemen out there. Aside from Figgins, the rest of the group consists mainly of injuries and question marks: Joe Crede, Hank Blalock, Adrian Beltre, and Troy Glaus.
In addition, there are no other players on the market that bring the speed dimension to the table like Figgins does. If the Rays decide to move Carl Crawford, then the market for Figgins might be cut into a bit. But on the surface, if a team is looking for speed and a lead-off hitter, then Figgins is the best guy out there.

Prediction

4 years/$44 million

Here are some comparable contracts:
Mike Lowell (3 years/$37.5 million)
Ryan Zimmerman (5 years/$45 million)
Casey Blake (3 years/$17.5 million)
Brian Roberts (4 years/$40 million)

Chone Figgins brings so much to the table that it's hard to imagine him not getting at least three or four years. I will be interested to see what kind of dollar figure Figgins is able to get. Is he a $10 million per year player? Well, according to fangraphs, Figgins has been worth $20.4 million this season. Wow...maybe Figgins would be a bargain.

(Follow Jorge Says No! on Twitter!)

 

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