I'm kind of jumping the gun here, which I know I could easily regret should this whole story fall apart - nothing is yet official - but the language around the rumor is strong and now's when I have some time, so, onward. If the Mariners don't end up signing Figgins, then boy will there be egg on my face, but whatever. I'll take the risk.
- Remember that this rumor just popped up for the first time last night. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the Mariners went from potential fit to leading contender to being on the verge of a contract. Things happen fast in the offseason. Rumors that are slow to develop and drag out almost never come to fruition, unless they involve Erik Bedard.
- It's been suggested several times in the past that being a sports fan is nothing more than rooting for laundry. This could end up being the ultimate test of that hypothesis, as the Mariners' signing one of the most hated Angels opens the door for the Angels to sign one of our most beloved Mariners. Speaking for myself, I already know I'm going to welcome Figgins with open arms, and I know that Beltre in LAnaheim would become a target of derision, and I can't even imagine how I would explain that to me in 2008, or Me in 2006. Sports do funny things to people. How you feel about a team seldom changes, but how you feel about a player can reverse itself at the drop of a hat, like how you feel about a laptop.
- This team ranked #1 in infield hits and #4 in bunt hits before adding Figgins. With all the contact, the infield hits, the bunts, the speed, the defense, and the lack of power, the Mariners have to be the odds-on favorite to be baseball's most annoying team in 2010. We liked to joke around that this team played Angels baseball a year ago, but now they're taking it to a whole other level. We're going to win at least, I dunno, 80 games, and fans of the other teams are never going to know how they lost. It's going to be embarrassing, and awesome.
- A lot of people are going to focus on the fact that Figgins has hit just nine home runs over the past three seasons. "The Mariners need power!" they'll say. "You can't score runs if you don't have power!" Don't listen to those people. Teams don't need power. They need production. Production is measured by wOBA. Figgins is a pretty safe bet to post a good wOBA. Remember, wOBA isn't misleading - it's a direct measure of the things players do to produce runs. A player with a wOBA of .340 and 30 home runs will be just as valuable offensively as a player with a wOBA of .340 and 5 home runs. Power is one way to generate offense, but it is one way of several, and Figgins will help this offense.
- Rosenthal predicted a deal around $36m/4yr and Jon Heyman just said $35m/4yr, so that seems to be where it's settling. The only thing that troubles me about this deal is the fourth year. Four years is a long contract for a guy that turns 32 next January. But remember, long-term contracts only really become a major issue when they pile on top of one another. Last year, thanks to Bill Bavasi, the Mariners had huge money tied up in guys like Kenji Johjima, Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva, and Jarrod Washburn, The year before had all the same guys, plus Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro. Stacked together, those contracts have been a serious impediment. However, as of now, Figgins is the only commitment made for 2013. He's the only one on the books. So even if he declines and becomes a significantly less valuable player, then as long as Zduriencik is smart about the rest of his transactions, Figgins' contract won't pose much of a problem. Not that it would be fine if he started to suck or anything, but it wouldn't kill us. No single mid-level contract can really hurt a team with as much money as the Mariners.
- At ~$9m a season, Figgins is getting paid like a ~2-win player. Fangraphs says he's been worth 11.6 wins over the past three years despite not playing in 97 total games. Figgins is better than a two-win player, which makes this the rare free agent contract that looks like a value from the beginning. Coming into the winter, the Mariners knew they had to be efficient with their money in order to turn this team into a winner. Getting a 3+ win player at a 2-win price is a positive step. Figgins isn't a bargain, but he's arguably the best reasonable fit for the position, and we got him at a better price than you'd expect. That's neat. It's a good enough deal to make up for the lost draft pick.
- I scheduled a week-long vacation to the East Coast, beginning tonight, that's going to keep me away during the winter meetings. At first I felt guilty, since everybody loves the winter meetings, but then I started to get excited about the freedom. That said, even with my excitement, I'm thrilled that what will likely be the Mariners' biggest move of the offseason is getting ~done before I leave. Really alleviates the guilt.
- Figgins is a switch-hitter, which just makes me so damn happy, but it's worth noting that his numbers are far better from the left side. He's not worthless as a righty, and his ability to draw a walk keeps him productive, but he does have a platoon split.
Dave talked about it yesterday, but one of the advantages Figgins presents over Beltre is that his versatility gives the team a lot of options. He's probably going to end up playing third, but because he can play third, second, and in the outfield, he leaves the FO with some flexibility as they work out what to do about Jose Lopez and how much trust they should put in Michael Saunders. Figgins? Bill Hall? Jack Hannahan? Matt Tuiasosopo? Could this team be more versatile? They have so much flexibility that it's borderline annoying.
- I mentioned it in yesterday's comment thread, but don't get too worked up over Figgins' crazy defensive numbers last season. He's not a +15 player at third. He's more like a +5. He's good, but he's not Beltre-good. Textbook example of how you need more than one year of defensive data to reach a conclusion.
- Figgins led the AL in walks last year. I've mentioned it before, but Figgins drew more unintentional walks in 2009 than Jose Lopez has drawn in his career. For those of you who grew tired of Beltre swinging his way out of at bats, Figgins couldn't have a more different approach. Figgins swings at about 37% of pitches. Beltre swings at about 52%. About 79% of the pitches Figgins swung at last year were in the zone, as opposed to Beltre's 66%. His discipline is a big part of what allows him to succeed despite having so little power. Discipline and ability to make contact.
- I don't know if it's real or scoring error, but Figgins has consistently posted line drive rates well above the league average. 24% for his career. His career BABIP on all three major types of balls in play - grounders, fly balls, and line drives - is also better than the league average.
- Figgins loves to run, but he's no Ichiro. His career SB success rate of 74% is close to the break-even point. It'll be interesting to see if he's just naturally aggressive, or if a change in coaching staffs will make him a little more selective on the basepaths. Not that he necessarily needs to be. He'll get caught a lot, but as long as he's north of 70% or so, he's helping.
- Something like $16m or so left to find a starting pitcher, a first baseman, and a DH. Assuming Branyan at $5-6m or so, the Mariners will still have some room to work with. They could make a play for Rich Harden and fill 1B with a cheap trade, or they could put more resources towards 1B and settle for something less sexy on the mound. I'd expect the former.
- No Chone Figgins name jokes. They're stupid. Anybody who makes a Chone Figgins name joke is stupid. Knock it off.