The Rays love versatility. It gives them roster flexibility and the ability to put their best possible offensive players in the lineup without worrying as much about their defensive alignment. Even this offseason, the Rays’ versatility continues to resonate- the presence of Ben Zobrist allows the Rays to acquire either an outfielder or a shortstop knowing that Zobrist could play the other position. Versatility is far from the be-all, end-all for the Rays (see Drew Sutton and Brooks Conrad), but they appreciate it as much as any team in baseball. With that in mind, could Chone Figgins be a possible acquisition for the Rays?
Figgins, 34, was just designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners after a horrific season, posting just a .181/.262/.271 line (54 OPS+), and a three-year stretch of nightmares in Seattle, managing just a .227/.302/.283 line (68 OPS+) in 1209 plate appearances, not exactly a small sample size. After a while, the Mariners essentially decided to stop playing him because he was playing so badly. The Mariners really want nothing to do with Figgins anymore. He has one year in 8 million dollars left on his contract and there is no chance that anyone takes on that contract. Pending a mesmerizing series of events, no team is going to claim Figgins, the Mariners will outright him to Triple-A Tacoma, and he’ll decline and become a free agent with the Mariners paying his 2012 salary. Assuming all that happens (a pretty safe bet), Figgins will be on the market hoping someone will offer him a minor league deal. Could the Rays be the team that does so?
The Rays like a lot of things about Chone Figgins, his versatility, his speed, and his plate discipline. But there are also a lot of things that no one could possibly like. He has no power- his career high in homers was 9 back in 2006. More importantly, what are the chances he gets within 50 points of his .277 career batting average next season? 10 to 1? 50 to 1? 1000 to 1? By the way, he may be versatile, but UZR considers him a below-average player at every position he has played other than… third base, the one place where the Rays couldn’t possibly play him. Chone Figgins has a ton of things going against him right now. He’d be lucky for someone to offer him a minor league contract at this point after just how far he has dropped off. If anyone is crazy enough to do that, it’s may the Rays given their yen for speed and versatility. But don’t expect this to happen, and even it does, don’t expect anything at all to come of it.