Seattle Mariners Trade Rumors: Will They Find a Contract Dump for Chone Figgins?

Patrick HansenCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 02:  Chone Figgins #9 of the Seattle Mariners looks on prior to his game against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 2, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

There is no longer any question that the Mariners should find some way to rid themselves of Chone Figgins. It's possible that they could find some team excited enough to take him and his whole contract, but the Mariners could be stuck eating his entire contract and releasing him into the free agent pool.

I'm not insinuating that his career his over, but he really doesn't have much more value to the Mariners as they enter what we all hope to be the final year of GM Jack Zduriencik's rebuilding plan.

Figgins' time in Seattle was plagued by frequent hitting slumps and sub-par fielding, things with which he never had problems while he was in Los Angeles. The most apparent difference between his time in LA and Seattle has been his position in the batting order.

Figgins always hit leadoff in LA, and he was a key contributor to the team while he was there. In 2009, the year before he came to Seattle, he hit .298, accumulated a 6.9 WAR and finished tenth in MVP voting. The next year, he dropped to a 1.1 WAR (with a -0.2 defense component).

There obviously wasn't any space at the leadoff spot in Seattle with Ichiro (the best leadoff hitter of his time), and Figgins' stats reflected that. He grounded into a career-high 19 double plays (way off his average of seven) and his OBP dropped 45 points.

After this year, with Ichiro's worst season yet, there's been talk of removing him from the leadoff spot. Some people say he'll bounce back; others say his age has finally gotten to him, and he's in his final spiral downward.

However, I don't see Jack Z taking such a rash action after ten straight seasons of 200-plus hits, gold gloves and All-Star Game appearances.

As for his position at third base, Figgins hasn't really had it locked down all season. Close to the beginning of the season, manager Eric Wedge benched Figgins as a hopeful remedy to recurring slumps. When that didn't work, Wedge tried moving Figgins up and down the batting order, also to no avail.

Figgins proved nothing this year while young guys like Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi showed that they can compete at the major league level.

Even if Jack Z decided that Ichiro should move down in the order and try hitting for power, there's a possibility that he'd add someone like Jose Reyes to hit leadoff.

So with Chone Figgins out of the starting lineup, the M's don't really want him just sitting on the bench eating money. They're currently in decent shape financially, so a deal in which they covered the rest of his $17MM contract is possible. 

There hasn't been a lot of recent expressed interest in Chone Figgins, but according to SeattlePI, the Colorado Rockies are in the market for a third baseman, as they will be breaking ties with Kevin Kouzmanoff. That deal would likely require the M's to cover Figgins' contract, but at least he'd be gone.

Another option, according to Dave Cameron of the USS Mariner, would be a "change of scenery" trade for Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants.

Zito, who has struggled with age and injury this year, won't hold a spot in the starting rotation next year, but he's still owed $39MM over the next two years with an $18MM option for 2013 or a $7MM buyout for the Giants. 

That's an even bigger hole than the one the Mariners are in with Chone Figgins, so the Giants should be more than happy to swap. Of course in that scenario, we'd want to take Figgins' contract and let them take Zito's. 

Back in July, the Cincinnati Reds expressed some interest in Figgins, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, but there's been no follow-up. 

In all of these situations, however likely, the Mariners would be paying off the rest of Figgins' contract, and the deals won't get any better. If none of the trades work, like I said earlier, the M's will probably just drop Figgins, pay him his money and say goodbye.

Bottom line: the Mariners won't find a contract dump for Chone Figgins.