Ah, yes. Chone Figgins. The man that was supposed to tag team with Ichiro to form a 1-2 punch in the lineup that would drive managers and pitchers batty.
Things didn't go so hot for Figgins. Which, under normal circumstances, wouldn't make him a guy you'd give up on. However, consider almost ever other Mariners player had a poor season and the team now looks to rebuild, Figgins and his big contract are no longer a good fit.
Before we jump to any expectations of a trade happening, we must first realize that the odds of a deal happening are low. At least until (if) Figgins rebuilds some of his value. Currently, his trade value couldn't be any lower. If he gets off to a hot start, though, another team may become interested.
Moving back to third base will help get him part of the way there. Getting on, stealing bases and scoring runs will be the other needed ingredients. Then, of course, there needs to be another team with a need.
Here's a look at five potential deals to get this done.
The Braves showed interest in Figgins at the trade deadline last season.
A big part of that, though, was because Chipper Jones went down to injury and they were making a push for Bobby Cox's last stand. There could still be reason for the Braves to want Figgins now, though.
A major ACL tear for an older player is obviously a lot worse than for a younger player. There's no telling how well it has healed, or how it will hold up. Having Figgins as an insurance policy would be nice.
Figgins is a switch hitter, and while he hits righties better than lefties, he's capable of spelling any of the infielders or corner outfielders if they're hurting or struggling against a pitcher of opposite handedness. While his defense is best at the hot corner, he has played all over the field.
What would it take?
Well, the Braves don't need him as much as they did last season with the addition of Uggla and a healthy Chipper. However, if the Mariners eat some of the salary, they could wrangle something out of the Braves.
Trade 3B Chone Figgins and cash to Atlanta for LHP Jose Ortegano
Ortegano had a decent 2009 split between A+ and AA ball. After an arm injury, he dropped back to A+ to start 2010 where he was bad. He then got shot all the way up to AAA, where he was still bad to the tune of a 6.20 ERA (4.56 FIP). Perhaps the Braves rushed him to AAA after the injury. While he has struggled, he's only 23.
It's possible that with his small frame he doesn't stick in a rotation. Although, Safeco would be kind to his left-handedness. He does induce some grounds, too, which never hurts.
The Giants will rely on an infield of Pablo Sandoval, Miguel Tejada, Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff in 2011.
While the argument certainly could be made that this infield (minus Tejada) got the job done last season, there's certainly reason to think one or more of those pieces won't pan out. Be it age, injury, inconsistency or physical conditioning, the Giants could end up with a broken link somewhere in this chain.
Enter Chone Figgins and his versatility.
This may be a team that could most benefit from Figgins' super-utility abilities. The corner outfield spots and the three infield spots left of first base could be manned by Figgins for off-days. The other spots could be handled in a pinch.
He wasn't a huge fan of this role, and apparently asked the Mariners for assurance that he wouldn't be forced into that when signing. Well, not playing well and trying to fight your manager sort of voids that gentleman's agreement. Although, Sandoval may only be a few more cheeseburgers from opening an everyday spot for Figgins.
Mariners trade 3B Chone Figgins and cash to San Francisco for 3B Conor Gillaspie
Gillaspie is a former first round pick who hasn't really shined in the Giants' system. He's shown decent defense. Really, everything is just kind of decent. Nothing is spectacular. He hits lefty, though, so he could be a useful utility infielder at Safeco Field.
It seems like you can always pick on the Royals when dreaming up trade ideas. Oh, and they have this Mike Moustakas kid that is going to rake it at the major league level.
This time, it seems like they may actually have a real need that could be filled here. While the Mariners would certainly have to send cash along with Figgins, the Royals could use an upgrade at third base and they have a stacked farm system that would allow them to make the move.
Currently, the Royals have Mike Aviles slated to start at third next season until Moustakas arrives. Aviles is more of a middle infielder, though, having played the bulk of his games up the middle. While the sample of his playing at third is small, he hasn't looked like a wizard over there.
Figgins could start at third, allowing Aviles to slide back to second base while Chris Getz and his .302 OBP moves to a backup role.
Once Moustakas arrives, Figgins can slide to second base or become a super-utility in the way the Angels used him. He might not like that, but it would make the Royals better and add a quality veteran to a squad that will start to see some young players begin to arrive.
Trade 3B Chone Figgins and cash to Kansas City for C Salvador Perez
Perez is the second best catching prospect in Kansas City's system behind Wil Myers, and he currently doesn't have as high of a ceiling.
He's only 20 years old, though. He hit .290/.322/.411 with seven homers and 21 doubles at A+ ball in 2010. That's not bad for a pre-drinking-age kid who is playing the hardest position to develop.
One write-up I read on Perez has him as solid defender in the making. Perhaps his bat never comes around and he's a back-up, but again, he's only 20.
As a side bonus, he's from the same town in Venezuela as Felix Hernandez. Hopefully The King would still be around when the kid makes it to the show in a few years.
The Angels have had a miserable offseason.
They went after free agents such as Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and Adrian Beltre. In an offseason where owner Arte Moreno was determined to make the club better, they landed none of the marquee players they desired.
Normally, you don't do intra-division trades, but perhaps the Angels are desperate to make improvements. So, why not bring back a former star who was loved by the fans?
The Angels have both the cash and the need for an upgrade. Some of that is off-set by the intra-division factor and the Mariners obvious desire to dump salary. So, while the Mariners might be able to send less cash to the Angels than other trade partners, they'd probably still have to send some.
Trade 3B Chone Figgins and cash to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for LHP Will Smith
Smith is a big kid at 6'5" 235lbs. He's 21 years old and spent parts of 2010 at three levels of ball for the Angels.
While his big frame hasn't produced the mid 90s fastballs some expected, and his strikeout rate has regressed, Smith may end up being more of a mid-to-backend of the rotation starter. He's a strike thrower, but as we've seen left-handers who do that can succeed at Safeco.
The Angels farm system isn't terribly deep right now, and while giving up even a mediocre prospect may not be ideal, this could be a move that Moreno would push to create some buzz in an otherwise snore inducing offseason for Halos fans.
The Tigers currently have Carlos Guillen slated to be their every day second baseman. He hasn't played over 100 games in a season since 2008. He's not getting younger. Oh, and he's coming of a little microfracture surgery.
So, he should be good to go, right?
Also unfortunate for the Tigers is that they don't have a legit second base prospect close to the minors. So, if (when) Guillen goes down this season they'll be left to rely on Will Rhymes. Rhymes did pretty well during a short stint with the big club last year, but he's sure to regress some.
While Figgins is best suited for third, Brandon Inge has that position locked up.
Adding Figgins would give the Tigers a lot of versatility, though. He could play second on most days, and fill in if needed at third or in the outfield. On days where Victor Martinez catches, Guillen would DH or possibly play first to give Cabrera a day off also.
There would be a lot of combinations the Tigers could go with while still offering Figgins a mostly every day position.
Mariners trade 3B Chone Figgins, 3B Matt Tuiasosopo to Detroit for 3B Francisco Martinez
Martinez is a young toolsy player who was probably been rushed a bit out of rookie ball. He's only 20, and does show some raw abilities. He's also now been surpassed as the team's third baseman of the future by the Tigers first round pick last June, Nick Castellanos.
Tossing in Tui gives the Tigers a bench player/pinch hitter who has some versatility. This may seem like a lot to give up, but really, Tui is never going to turn into an every day player.
If the Mariners can dump Figgins' salary and get an interesting young player in return, it's worth it. I may even still be willing to pick up some of Figgins' salary.