there are an awful lot of disappointments in this picture - Otto Greule Jr
The offseason, obviously, isn't finished. We know this because the Seattle Mariners aren't yet playing baseball games. We know this also because we know that it's February, and Kyle Lohse is still out there as an unsigned free agent. Michael Bourn is also still out there as an unsigned free agent, and Bourn's sabermetric numbers are incredible. Someone still needs to sign Bourn, and the team that lands Bourn will be landing a hell of a center fielder. It could even conceivably be the Mariners! It is not likely to be the Mariners.
One of the reasons a number of Mariners fans are opposed to the idea of signing Bourn is because Bourn reminds a number of Mariners fans of Chone Figgins. Bourn is a fine but hardly outstanding hitter, and power has never been a part of his skillset. He provides a lot of that quieter value, with his defense and with his baserunning. That package fell apart once on this team, so people are nervous that it could fall apart again. It's understandable, if irrational and unfair to Bourn, who is his own special little snowflake.
This isn't about Bourn. This is about Figgins. Figgins and Bourn are linked in that Figgins used to be similar to the player Bourn more recently has been. And Figgins and Bourn are also linked in that both remain available on the free-agent market. It's February...5th, according to some of my pixels, and Chone Figgins doesn't have a job yet. Maybe he's working somewhere but he isn't working with a major-league baseball team.
Obviously, that's subject to change. But I'm more than a little surprised, even if maybe I shouldn't be. We saw how quickly the Mariners pounced on Jason Bay once he became available, and over the past few years Jason Bay has sucked. Over the past few years Chone Figgins has sucked too, but he's versatile and he's one of those guys with a track record outside of Seattle, so I figured it wouldn't be long until Figgins found himself a new team. The Mariners, remember, are on the hook for his contract, minus the league minimum. Figgins is there just waiting to be pointed at.
If people have pointed at him, it hasn't been to show interest. Figgins was released last November 28th. Let's take a look at his MLB Trade Rumors page. What do we see?
The Phillies, who have openings at third base and in the outfield, checked in with the recently released Chone Figgins, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. However, the extent of the club's interest is unclear at this time.
That's from December 2nd. It's the only update since Figgins was let go, and this is MLB Trade Rumors we're talking about, where they aggregate anything and everything. Even illegitimate Chone Figgins rumors would probably find their way to the front page. There's been one update, and nothing for more than two months. If there are teams with interest in Chone Figgins, they're keeping awful quiet about it.
Which, well, I wouldn't blame them. But look at what we have. A year after the Mariners signed Figgins to a big contract, they had an opportunity to trade him to Oakland, but they turned it down. Then Figgins got worse and his market value cratered. If the Mariners could've moved Figgins after he fell apart, they would've. When the Mariners designated Figgins for assignment, they couldn't find a trade partner, even though the Mariners would've been expected to cover Figgins' entire salary. Any team could've had Figgins in exchange for a low-level nothing, and nobody stepped forward. Every team in baseball was content to let Figgins hit the free-agent market, and no team in baseball has yet extended to Figgins an offer of employment. Figgins, at best, is perceived to be a replacement-level player right now. Realistically, the perception could be worse.
"I need to be somewhere else. I know I can still play, but it's not going to happen here."
Teams all have their evaluations of Chone Figgins. Not every team would have a place for him, but given Figgins' versatility and track record, you'd expect him to land someplace. Teams, clearly, don't think Figgins has much left to give at the plate, and he isn't exactly widely known as a team leader. Granted, in Figgins' defense, it's hard to be a team leader when you don't play. But Figgins didn't lead when he did play, and Eric Wedge took a swipe at Figgins and the rest of last year's veterans at the recent media conference and luncheon. Nobody, in short, looks at Chone Figgins and sees a solution.
I still expect that Figgins will get himself a job. He'll cost another team almost nothing, and if he waits into spring training, surely someone will get hurt, creating an opening. Then Figgins will go and give it his best. Maybe he actually sticks on a bench. Maybe he ends up in the minors as a 26th or 27th man. Chone Figgins has expressed that he still has a lot of confidence in Chone Figgins.
It's readily evident, though, that no one else does. It's not just the Mariners who've soured on Figgins. It's the entire market, as Figgins remains unsigned despite being almost literally freely available. On Chone Figgins, the market has spoken, and it's hard to disagree with the speaker.