A few days ago, the Mariners designated Chone Figgins for assignment. In short, it basically means Figgins will not be returning to Seattle. The AL West team figures to be unable to deal the veteran, as the rest of the league knows that they can approach Figgins as a free agent once the 10 day window is up for designated players.
Since the roster move by Seattle, there has been very little rumors regarding Figgins. The Angels and Rays are a couple of teams to have been named, due to connections such as prior team and hometown, respectively. However no rumors as of yet have really taken on legs of their own.
Figgins was signed to a large multi year deal after his outstanding 2009 season that include a career high .395 OBP, 42 stolen bases, and a MLB leading 101 walks. But the former Angel ended up being a disastrous free agent bust in Seattle. His time as a Mariner ended with a batting average of .181, .262 OBP, and just four stolen bases, his lowest base swiping total since his debut cup of coffee in 2002. Figgins only appeared in 66 games and it does not take a rocket scientist to see why the Mariners cut ties with the veteran, despite having to eat his 2013 salary.
Enter the Cubs and Theo Epstein. Figgins is a textbook case of a veteran with a history of some level of success that is looking for a bounce back season. At age 34, defensively versatile Figgins figures to want to try to hook on with a contending team and a chance to gain one thing that money cannot buy: a championship ring.
Figgins certainly does not figure to be cost prohibitive for a team that is planning to compete in 2013, but climbing on to the 25 man roster come Opening Day will certainly be the steepest on a playoff contender that figures to be rounding out their bench. It may actually be more beneficial for Figgins to consider playing for a low tier team such as the Cubs. The goal would be to create a win win scenario come the July 2013 trade deadline.
The ex Mariner has experience at third base, and that is certainly a position of need for the Cubs currently. Epstein would sell Figgins on the fact that the veteran would be given a fair shot to win the job. The speedy switch hitter would also plug the Cubs needs at lead off, as he would be a more speed oriented option compared to current option David DeJesus.
Epstein and Jed Hoyer would also need to have a hand shake agreement to deal Figgins at the trade deadline if contending teams came knocking, assuming a bounce back season of course. That best case scenario would potentially net the Cubs a prospect or two to continue with the stocking of the farm system that the Cubs front office is diligently working to upgrade.
Even a bad season from Figgins that mirrors his last two would not be a loss for a Cubs team looking to tread water at best next season. The team would have bought time to see how Ian Stewart returns to health or how Josh Vitters progresses. With incentive laden deals a running theme in Cubs free agent deals so far this off season, a $1 to $2 million one year deal with incentives would figure to be competitive on the open market for Figgins.
At the very least the front office and Cubs fans should give a frigging for Figgins this hot stove season. Heck, the Cubs are still giving Stewart a chance. The team might as well hedge their bets.