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Chone Figgins could regain value and then be dealt.
Chone Figgins' 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster for the Mariners.
Handing division rival Anaheim their first round draft choice for the then-Type A free agent seemed worth it at the time, even though the Mariners were in the midst of a rebuild. The thought, of course, was that Figgins would continue to play solid defense and cause havoc on the basepaths.
Perhaps it was moving to second base or dropping to second in the lineup. We don't know why Figgins had such a down year, but it doesn't matter, The net result was the Mariners ending up with a difficult contract to move for a player now on a team that would be better off without him.
This isn't to say Figgins doesn't still have value, especially now that he'll return to his better position of third base. The Mariners are deeper into rebuild now, though, after trying to compete while doing so in 2010.
If, as expected, the Mariners are nowhere near contending by the All-Star break, Figgins is playing like he did pre-2010 and somehow Anthony Rendon falls into the team's lap with the second overall pick in June's draft, we could see a contending team come knocking for Figgins' services.
Mariners trade 3B Chone Figgins to Giants for RHP Joe Martinez and 1B Travis Ishikawa
Surely "The Panda" will be in shape and play the entire season at third base, right? Well, just in case...
This would be mostly a salary relief move, as Figgins is due around $9 million for 2011. Neither Martinez nor Ishikawa provides much in the way of value, but their low salaries enable the Mariners to free up more payroll as they rebuild.
Martinez is likely headed for the bullpen before too much longer, but the Mariners could use someone to eat up some innings, especially later in the season, when the time comes to shut down Michael Pineda for the year.
Ishikawa is a local product, graduating from Federal Way High School. The Mariners love their local kids, and the huge void left by Willie Bloomquist and Sean White has to be filled somehow. The best case would see him playing a reserve role as Justin Smoak is tearing the cover off the ball. If Smoak is struggling, though, it gives the Mariners an actual option to play first base without calling up a prospect.
Figgins would provide the Giants an excellent defensive third baseman and a legit lead-off man if Andres Torres' late season regression continues into 2011. This, of course, is all dependent on Figgins reverting to his pre-2010 self, or at least something close to it.