Trading Chone Figgins Makes Sense

It seemed like something worth bringing up for discussion in its own FanPost, since, it is going to be a hot topic for at least a few days. The Chone Figgins --> Mets trade rumor thread had a reaction that I was not expecting from the community. Everyone, by and large, was upset by the idea that Figgins would be traded for a 2011 salary dump and prospects. Even though the trade did not come to fruition, it seemed as though everyone was against the idea of trading Figgins for anyone that isn't a major league ready impact bat. However, I would argue that trading Figgins for anything worthwhile (even just prospects) may actually be to our benefit.

When Chone Figgins was signed, the idea was that Figgins, if he played at his projected level, would have win values of something like:

2010: 4 wins
2011: 3.5 wins
2012: 3 wins
2013: 2.5 wins

Based on aging, etc. That’s 12 wins at 36 million, or about 3 million per win. Wins last year were about 4 million, and long term contracts get discounts, so we essentially paid him a little below average for free agents. A good deal, but nothing special. 

2010 is gone. 2011 is looking like a long shot. So really, the question is whether or not 9 million per year in 2012 and 2013 is worth it if he plays at his project level, and I don’t think it is. At least it is not something we should be concerned about losing. We’d be paying 18 million for 5 wins, and that’s only if this year is a fluke, with a genuine possibility that he has gotten worse. If 2011 was looking like our year, I’d say keep him around, but 2012 and 2013 are a long way off, he’s not expected to be as good during those years since he’s older, and all of this is under the assumption that he’s going to play back to his career norms, which is in no way a guarantee. Trading him is simply not that bad a move. We can always pay the same contract for someone on the free agent market in 2011 or 2012 or 2013 anyway, since his contract was never a steal.

Even if you’re trading him when his value is low, there is still a pretty obvious benefit to getting his contract off the books and using that money elsewhere. If 2011 looked to be a great year for us, maybe not, but since 2011 is already an uphill battle, it doesn’t make nearly as much sense to keep him around.

That is not to say that any Figgins trade is a good one. Not at all. He's still a very useful asset. Trading Figgins for Zambrano, for example, would simply be switching a good potential regular with a bad one. Whether or not to approve of a FIggins trade is based in large part on the trade itself. However, the idea of a trading Figgins is sound, because the assumption was we were signing him mostly for his projections in 2010 and 2011, one of which is a lost cause, the other is looking to be a tremendous struggle. It would appear trading Figgins before the 2012 and 2013 seasons would be more of a benefit than a loss to our long term outlook.

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