Should The Phillies Take A Chance On Chone Figgins? – Phillies Nation

Should The Phillies Take A Chance On Chone Figgins?

Figgins seemed to lose himself while playing in Seattle. Could relocating to Philadelphia get his career back on track? Photo: AP

With Chone Figgins being designated for assignment by the Mariners yesterday, all signs point to the once productive player hitting the free agent market. Ian Riccaboni and I sat down to discuss whether Figgins might be an option worth exploring for the Phillies.

I say yes.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Chone Figgins?! This guy can’t be serious! And that’s an understandable reaction. Because, let’s be honest, Figgins has been unequivocally bad the last two years–that’s why he got designated for assignment in the first place.

But, assuming he clears waivers–and all signs indicate that he will–I do believe Ruben Amaro, Jr. should at least put in a call to Tommy Tanzer, Figgins’s agent. Should that conversation go well, and there doesn’t seem to be any major interest from other teams for the services of the once highly-touted infielder, then Amaro should tender him an offer. Nothing huge. In fact, it should be a minor league deal with an invite to spring training at most.

At this point, you’re probably ready to pull your hair out. You’re asking questions like, ‘Why would the Phillies waste their time on this guy?’ and ‘What’s the point?’

The point is this: The Phillies desperately need to find a third baseman for next year and the market for that particular position is barren. The prospect of Kevin Youkilis–an aging player on the downside of his career who is likely to get more years and money than he’s worth–doesn’t exactly thrill me, and he’s probably the best third baseman on the market. The dearth of readily available talent at the hot corner, coupled with the fact that the team will have to allocate funds to multiple other positions, forces Amaro to get creative in finding a solution at third. Much like he did last offseason when searching for a left fielder, Amaro needs to exhaust every avenue and give himself and Charlie Manuel multiple options to fill that hole.

Here’s the other thing. I can’t believe that Figgins has regressed this much in just two year’s time. He’s gone from a perennial 3.5 WAR player to a -1.0 WAR player. Something about that doesn’t add up. Obviously players see their skills dissipate with age, but Figgins is only 34. He’s not exactly an old man. Just a written off one. He’s also battled injuries the last two seasons, appearing in 81 and 66 games, respectively. Not to mention he was victimized by the extremely low BABIP of .215 in 2011 and .237 in 2012. These are all things out of the player’s control.

I see Figgins as a low risk, high reward-type guy. The Phillies shouldn’t put all of their eggs in the Figgins basket, but they should give him a chance. Where’s the harm in a minor league deal? Should he prove to be as bad as he has played the last two seasons, the Phils can cut him in Spring Training and be done with it. But if he shows Manuel and the coaching staff something in Spring Training, he could become a productive player at a very low cost.

Fans with their doubts about taking a flier on a forgotten man need to look no further than last season, when the Phillies took a chance on Juan Pierre and he became a solid contributor. Could Figgins work out the same way? There’s no way of knowing. But it’s certainly worth a shot.

Now here’s Ian Riccaboni to tell you why I’m nuts:

Figgins signed a four-year deal with the Mariners after being heavily courted by the Mets, Cubs, White Sox, and the Phillies following a career year with the Angels. Figgins posted a line of .298/.395/.393 with five home runs and 42 steals in 59 attempts, playing top-notch defense at third and playing suitable defense at second. Since signing that deal, Figgins has gone from potential bargain to disappointment to disaster.

Figgins turns only 35 in January but his skillset has deteriorated at a pace expected for a player on the other side of 40. Everything about his lines and injury history say stay away: Figgins was limited to just 313 and 194 PA in 2011 and 2012, posting lines of .188/.241/.243 and .181/.262/.271 with SB totals of 11 and 4. His defense, once among his biggest assets, is now a liability, costing the Mariners approximately 18 runs over his three years there.

Don’t get me wrong: I am as surprised as anybody that such a promising player as Figgins had such a car-crash ending to a mega-contract. The Mariners designated him for assignment yesterday and he will get a second chance. If he clears waivers, which he will, and the Phillies can invite him to Spring Training, he would be an intriguing bench piece. But he is a definite no to me for the 2013 Phillies roster.

Click to comment


  1. hk

    November 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    On a minor league or veteran’s minimum deal, they absolutely should sign him. They should even consider trading for him if they give nothing in return and Seattle eats most of his contract. If his BABIP recovers to closer to his career norm, he can get on base ~1/3 of the time (or more if he’s platooned with Frandsen and only faces RHP’s) and play solid defense at 3B.

  2. Bob in Bucks

    November 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    minor league contract is fine.

  3. rc

    November 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    sure they always sign some players to minor league deals.

  4. MplsPhilsFan

    November 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I don’t think there would be any harm in signing Chone to a minor league contract, much like the Phils did with Pierre last year and guys like Luis Castillo before that. No risk, and some upside. I say put in a call and see if you can get him into Spring Training

  5. Manny

    November 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I’d even offer him a major league contract. This guy is NOT this bad. And he was playing in freaking Safeco. I can really see him blossom in Philly. Sign him. I’m a big YES.

    • schmenkman

      November 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      He’s been REALLY bad the past 2 years:

      For comparison…

      Valdez .231/.270/.293 (51 wRC+), -6.8 UZR, -1.1 WAR in 508 PAs
      Martinez .188/.241/.272 (37 wRC+), 0.8 UZR, -0.8 WAR in 356 PAs
      Figgins .185/.249/.253 (43 wRC+), -5.7 UZR, -2.2 WAR in 507 PAs

      Small sample caveats apply, esp. on the UZR.

      In any case, there is a chance that he could rebound to a semblance of his old self, so certainly worth a flyer.

    • George

      November 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      I doubt if Safeco is much of a factor for a guy like Figgins who has never hit for power.

      • schmenkman

        November 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm

        Yeah, he has hit about the same at home and on the road since joining the Mariners:


        home: .223/.309/.262 (.572 OPS)
        away: .231/.295/.301 (.596 OPS)

  6. George

    November 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I’d wait. Later in the off-season, there may be other, better options. Despite that whole “no risk” sentiment, there’s the risk that he can’t even live up to a minor league salary and he robs playing time from real prospects. It would be a stupid move to sign a potential DFA this early.

  7. Chuck A.

    November 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    We need Youk’s bat, though. I’ve been saying all along that I’d be fine with signing him to a one year deal in the 10-12 MM range and give him some starts at first as well when there’s an especially tough lefty on the mound. I think the key to Youk is using him the right way. he can’t play every single game but if he can get into 140 or so I think that a contract such as that might be worth it.

    Figgins? … I’m not all that

  8. Chuck A.

    November 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    We need Youk’s bat, though. I’ve been saying all along that I’d be fine with signing him to a one year deal in the 10-12 MM range and give him some starts at first as well when there’s an especially tough lefty on the mound. I think the key to Youk is using him the right way. he can’t play every single game but if he can get into 140 or so I think that a contract such as that might be worth it.

    Figgins? … I’m not all that convinced.

  9. Ken Bland

    November 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I can’t remember the circumstances a year ago, probably if Seattle;d pay most all the freight, but I suggested the idea then. He had some real good games very early, something like 3 3 hit games in a row, but completely failed to sustain. I look at his first bad year as shame on him, and his second on shame on me. I’d pass.

  10. Lefty

    November 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    As soon as I saw the DFA I thought about this. We’ve seen it before, the way a change of scenery can re-energize players. But I agree with George’s point, I see no need to move quickly on this.

    The Phillies are trying to win championships with all the money they’ve invested in quality starting pitchers, not resurrect careers, right? IMO- They need to aim high, (Youkilis etc.) or young (Olt etc.). Chone Figgins is neither, but if they can’t do better and he’s still around mid February, then sure, why not.

  11. Lefty

    November 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I almost forgot, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I wish all of you and yours the best.

    • George

      November 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks, Lefty. I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, too.

  12. bacardipr

    November 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I know nothing about this cat but what about Jim Miller. I read he was Dfa’d. If im reading his stats none of the fancy advanced mumbo his ERA was 2.59 in 48 innings and 44 K’s. Is this good no yes?

  13. chuck schreiber

    November 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Is this Figgins, Minimart’s twin brother. He is by his stats. NO F____G WAY.

  14. psujoe

    November 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I’m on the fence, but he could be some insurance if Frandsen struggles against righties. If they sign Youk then pass.

  15. psujoe

    November 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Anyone have the stats of the Phils vs lefties and Phils vs Righties for the entire team in parts or in total?

  16. Betasigmadeltashag

    November 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    First off can we please bringing up Youk the guy can not play every day can not stay on the field and is too old dies any remember the first 4 months of last year he is going get two years 8-10 million a year and he is not worth it. He is and less effective defensive Polly with slightly more power. If all it takes is a minor league deal why not take a shot on figgins and really if they can get an impact outfielder Fransen can be an every day guy and hit 290-300

    • psujoe

      November 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      I believe Frandsen is going to come through and I wouldn’t pay Youk $10 million. CF, setup and possibly another OF is were I hope the chips fall.

  17. EricL

    November 22, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Not really a fan of signing an older version of MiniMart when I don’t even want anything to do with the actual MiniMart.

  18. wbramh

    November 22, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Just what the team needs. An injury-prone 35-year-old who can’t hit or field.

    • hk

      November 22, 2012 at 6:02 am

      The defensive metrics say otherwise about Figgins’s glove at 3B, which I assume is the only position at which the Phils would play him.

  19. robe du mariage

    November 22, 2012 at 3:57 am

    J’aime vraiment votre blog, j’ai vraiment aimé cet article

  20. Ryne Duren

    November 22, 2012 at 9:02 am

    youk? no way! figgins? i agree with lefty if he’s still there in feb. sign him to a minor league deal. however i don’t want him taking playing time awat from asche! if that would be the case then it’s a big no! happy thanksgiving to all!

  21. Psu joe

    November 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    That slash line vs lefties is horrific considering Vic and Frandsen crushed lefties.

  22. Psu joe

    November 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Interesting that the Phil’s k rate last year was one of the lowest in the league. Hmm.

    • schmenkman

      November 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      It’s harder to strike ou when you don’t work deep counts. Low K’s usually go with low walks. For individual examples, see Polanco, Placido, and Pierre, Juan.

  23. honest abe

    November 26, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Hi Ryan,
    I’m an Ms fan, former Phils fan when I lived there, except when they met my hometown Os in the series :-). I think you’re right. Not sure what went wrong w/Figgy but it was really weird seeing them move a guy who played a good 3rd base to a place he never played 2nd and putting Jose Lopez from 2nd to 3rd???? never been explained stupid move – I think that messed w/his head. Other big deal is other than Ichiro, the M’s had nobody who can hit, no lineup protection period. If Figgy has some decent protection from the Phils pretty good group of hitters, he’ll see better pitches. Check out how well Ichiro did once he was liberated to a lineup with major league hitters – that’s why he tailed off, he hated to walk and they didn’t have to throw him anything to hit = career 320 hitter dropping to 260. Only thing about Figgy I haven’t seen mentioned is what if his earlier success was based on ‘roids and once he gets the big bux + league testing gets tougher, he stops doing the ‘roids – in that case he’ll still suck but your minor league contract gives the Phils an easy out – even if he makes the team and sucks, relax – 2013 is on the Mariners (but thank God we’re rid of him!)!!!

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