Friday, December 4, 2009

Chone Figgins and the Go-Go Mariners

Are the Mariners about to make the first big free agent signing of the winter? Take it away John Paul Morosi:
"The Mariners have made progress toward a deal with free agent Chone Figgins and are clear frontrunners to sign the third baseman, multiple major league sources told

The team and Figgins' representatives engaged in serious talks Thursday. One person briefed on the discussions said he wouldn't be surprised if the sides agreed to a deal of at least four years over the next several days. But he cautioned that there is "nothing done" yet.

The market for third basemen began to take shape earlier Thursday, when Placido Polanco signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Phillies. Figgins is younger than Polanco and had a better 2009 season, so it's likely that his deal will be worth more than $30 million.

The Angels have maintained interest in retaining Figgins since the free-agent period began, but it doesn't appear that they have offered more than a three-year deal thus far. It's still possible that Angels owner Arte Moreno will counter the Mariners' efforts by authorizing a late push to re-sign Figgins."
When the offseason began, I did not link Figgins to the Mariners despite the Mariners potential need for a third baseman. It seemed to be a given that the Mariners would need to go after power this offseason to give their lineup a much needed slugger. With tons of money to burn this winter, it seemed very logical that the Mariners would make a hard push for the top two power hitters: Matt Holliday and Jason Bay (who they appear to be targeting as well).

But for now, the Mariners focus seems to be on Figgins. And while I know the Mariners can't win without a thumper or two in the middle of their order, the possibility of this top of the order is very enticing:

1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
3. Ichiro Suzuki, RF

As a manager, I would be terrified by that trio. Obviously, there are several different ways the Mariners could tinker the top of the order, but the Mariners would be building their team around batting average, speed, and if Gutierrez continues to improve, on base percentage. Whoever hits behind those three guys would have tons of RBI opportunities and I'm sure that the Mariners offense would become far more potent. I'd love to see a Suzuki-Figgins one-two punch at the top of the order, but until the Mariners add two power hitters, that thought has to be on the back burner in my opinion.

Another reason why I like the idea of adding Figgins is because of the stadium the Mariners play in. SAFECO Park is far from a hitter's paradise and has the potential to take away home runs and keep power numbers low. But if Mariners build a team around the vast space of SAFECO Park by emphasizing speed and quickness, then this team could really be a fun one to watch.

Will the Mariners actually sign Figgins? I'd say that the chances are very good because the Mariners have so much money to spend. If the team has truly identified him as a free agent they want to pursue, then I don't see too many scenarios where the Mariners lose a bidding war for Figgins.

If the Mariners can sign Chone Figgins and still have enough funds left over to go after two power hitters and a starting pitcher, then I'd be all for this acquisition.

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