MLB Trade Rumors: Chone Figgins Going from Mariners to Athletics?

Joe HalversonCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2011

Chone Figgins
Chone FigginsJ. Meric/Getty Images

The latest talk out of the rumor mill has Seattle's Chone Figgins headed to Oakland in a deal that involves Kevin Kouzmanoff and may or may not include Toronto as a third team.

If Seattle does not have to take on any additional salary, it should jump at this deal. Figgins, who signed with the Mariners last season after several quality years with the Angels, was an unmitigated disaster in 2010.  An elite-level third baseman defensively in Los Angeles (+16.2 UZR in 2009), Figgins was asked to move to second base in an effort to get better glove work out of Jose Lopez (who moved from second to third), and Figgins struggled at his new position to the tune of -12.3 UZR on the season.  

(Lopez did well defensively, with a +8.1 UZR at third base, but struggled horribly at the plate and has since been traded to Colorado.)

To make matters worse, Figgins' defensive struggles seemed to carry over to his hitting, as Figgins also had to deal with a transition from the leadoff spot in Los Angeles to hitting behind Ichiro in Seattle.  Figgins suffered in both his power numbers (which were limited to begin with) and plate discipline, dropping his OPS+ from 110 in 2009 to a mere 84 in 2010, a figure that includes a surge in hitting in the final month of the season.

There's a strong case to be made that Figgins was Seattle's least valuable player last season (which is really saying something).  He is also still due $22 million over the next three years, and the rebuilding Mariners are unlikely to receive a good value on their investment.

Figgins is, however, a reasonable bet to bounce back if he can get back into his comfort zone, so a trade with Oakland (where he could lead off and play third base again) makes considerable sense.

In Kouzmanoff, Seattle would get a fine defensive upgrade at third base (UZR of +16.1 in 2010), and his 90 OPS+ actually represents an upgrade over the Mariners' production at the position last season.  He also is due only $4.75 million, making him an excellent stopgap at the position.

It also makes the Mariners more likely to pursue Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the second pick in next June's MLB draft.

If Toronto is involved in this deal, the Blue Jays will likely wind up with Kouzmanoff, and the Mariners could get more prospects or more open salary.  

Either way, Seattle should jump at the chance to deal Chone Figgins as long as it does not have to take back too much salary.