It seems pretty clear that Chone Figgins' time in Seattle, at least as a guy who receives any sort of playing time, is at or near its end.
As such, this offseason seems like a good time for the Mariners to admit their mistake and shop the maligned third baseman. The Mariners aren’t in a markedly different situation than two years ago when they traded Carlos Silva and cash to the Chicago Cubs for Milton Bradley, and like that trade, they’ll probably have to take on another team’s baggage. However, another element that is vital to these kind of trades is benefit, or potential benefit, for both sides of the trade.
For example, in the Mariners' case, their largest benefit is going to be inserting a person at a position of need, presuming that player's salary over the next two years isn’t significantly greater than Figgins’, that has potential to contribute. But considering the money that Figgins makes, and how poorly he’s played in the last two years, the Mariners may have to get creative.
A team will owe Figgins $17 million over the next two years, and these are some places that could use his services and that have comparable contracts to send back to Seattle.
Player coming to Seattle: Kevin Youkilis, 3B/1B/DH
Contract details: 2012: $12 million; 2013: $13 million club option ($1 million buyout)
How it could go down: Even at Figgins’ best, he was never the player that Youkilis is. The only reason a trade of Youkilis is really even conceivable is because of minor blame he’s taken for the Red Sox's historic collapse to end the season. No question though, if Figgins and Youkilis were involved in the same trade, a lot of money and a decent prospect would likely be going the Red Sox's way.
Player coming to Seattle: Jake Peavy, SP (RH)
Contract details: 2012: $17 million; 2013: $22 million club option ($4 million buyout)
How it could go down: Peavy has struggled to stay healthy since being traded to Chicago and really hasn’t been a dominant pitcher since 2007. Since then he’s lost two miles per hour on his fastball and has seen his slider sapped of most of its effectiveness. Still, his $21 million guaranteed for his contract (including the buyout) make acquiring Peavy for Figgins fundamentally the same as signing Peavy to a one-year, $4 million contract, presuming the team has no plans to play Figgins in 2012.
Maybe the Mariners would be better off going after Yu Darvish?
Player coming to Seattle: Joe Blanton, SP (RH)
Contract details: 2012: $8.5 million
How it could go down: Joe Blanton has been underappreciated in Philadelphia, which is no shock considering the amazing four guys ahead of him. Conventional stats don’t love Blanton, and neither do Phillies fans, or the front office it seems, but his peripherals are highly intriguing. The Mariners may have to pay for half of Figgins’ contract, but they’d probably receive a gain if Blanton succeeds in Safeco.
Player coming to Seattle: Aubrey Huff, 1B/DH
Contract details: 2012: $10 million; 2013: $10 million club option ($2 million buyout)
How it could go down: Aubrey Huff could easily step into one of the 1B or DH positions. The question really though, is whether or not the Giants plan on replacing him at first base next year. Brandon Belt nearly pushed Huff out last year, but ended up posting generally disappointing numbers, while a slimmer Pablo Sandoval may eventually need to move off third base.
Those concerns for Sandoval may have been calmed by his 12.3 UZR last year, and though he may have received some luck in terms of errors, one of the elements of UZR—range runs—seem to show a tangible improvement in Pablo Sandoval’s athletic improvement.
Either way though, the Giants have questions around their entire infield, and Figgins could step into any of those and potentially improve at least the defense at the position.
Do Martin Prado or Jair Jurrjens make sense in Seattle?
Player coming to Seattle: Jorge de la Rosa, SP (LH)
Contract details: 2012: $10 million; 2013: $11 million player option ($1 million buyout); 2014: $11 million club option if player exercises 2013 player option
How it could go down: It’s not typical for a guy with de la Rosa’s history of production to be available for the trade of a broken piece to an evolving puzzle. However, after being one of the top free agents available last year and re-signing with the Rockies, de la Rosa threw less than 60 innings before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery.
Barring some miraculous recovery, de la Rosa will likely exercise his 2012 option, so the team would be on the hook for $21 million. But the opportunity to have team control of a good lefty starter through 2013 is worth the $4 million difference in the two players' salaries.