Chone Figgins Rumors
Indians starter Corey Kluber will look to shut down the Twins tonight and end Cleveland's ten-game losing streak. Kluber will face an offense that ranks 12th in MLB in runs scored (though they do much of their hitting at home, as Dave Cameron noted today). In the meantime, here are today's links...
- The Mariners would have to absorb about $10MM in salary if they released Chone Figgins, but they should remove him from the roster anyway, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes.
- Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that he owes it to his teammates to focus on his game, rather than the trade chatter that often surrounds him. He might have to face another round of trade rumors this offseason, if the Diamondbacks decide they'll listen to trade offers for him again a few months from now.
- The Orioles are discussing trade possibilities regarding Endy Chavez, but they think he could stay in the organization, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). Instead of trading the recently-designated outfielder, the Orioles could demote him to Triple-A with the expectation of calling him up when rosters expand in September.
The Phillies acquired Hunter Pence from the Astros for prospects Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton and Josh Zeid and a player to be named later on this date last year. Here are the latest links as we look forward to yet another busy trade deadline...
- The Twins are listening to offers for Denard Span, but won’t move him unless they get a Major League starter in return, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter).
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams says the White Sox are still looking to add, Nightengale reports (on Twitter). The White Sox, who traded forFrancisco Liriano last night, would look to acquire a position player this time, Nightengale writes.
- Alfonso Soriano, Cliff Lee and Ervin Santana are among the players who could clear waivers and be traded in August, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports.
- Willie Bloomquist, Brendan Ryan and Ty Wigginton are thought to be on the Yankees' long list of potential infield options, Heyman reports. Yunel Escobar, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez and Cody Ransom are also thought to be on New York's list.
- One team that’s spoken with the Mariners reports that "they want everybody," Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets.
The Angels are talking to the Rays about Wade Davis and other available pitchers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. James Shields has drawn interest from Los Angeles, but Davis might represent an alternative for the Angels’ bullpen or rotation. Here are the latest notes from the AL East...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post can’t imagine the Yankees trading for Mark Reynolds or Chone Figgins even with Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list. However, an AL executive said there’s “zero chance” Eric Chavez can replace Rodriguez on a daily basis without breaking down. The Yankees are expected to consider available third basemen in the coming week.
- The Red Sox have fielded some exploratory inquiries on Josh Beckett, but the calls amount to preliminary check-ins at this point, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. There’s “nothing close” regarding a potential deal, according to Bradford. Beckett, who can veto any trade with his ten and five rights, does not interest the Rangers.
- Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar remains a possible option for the A’s, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. However, the shortstop says he likes playing in Toronto and doesn’t want to be traded, according to Slusser.
Chone Figgins has been a colossal bust with the Mariners, but manager Eric Wedge told reporters (including Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times) that parting ways with the infielder is "not even a consideration" right now. Seattle optioned Casper Wells to Triple-A rather than cut ties with Figgins when Miguel Olivo came off the disabled list today.
"Not right now,'' said the manager. "Right now, that's not even an option for us. With Chone, as you all know -- we were very open with you (media) guys about that -- we wanted to give him every opportunity to get back on track. We feel like we did that, leading him off, switching his role a little bit, and it didn't work out."
Figgins, 34, has hit just .230/.303/.286 in over 1,100 plate appearances with the Mariners since signing his four-year, $36MM contract prior to 2010. Seattle has indicated a willingness to eat part of that contract to facilitate a trade, but so far they've found no takers. Figgins still offers a lot of versatility but is owed approximately $15MM through next season.
The Chone Figgins' signing has been nothing short of a disaster for the Mariners, which is why the team is willing to include cash in any trade involving the infielder according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. There isn't much interest right now, but Morosi says the Mariners view the Reds, Giants, and Tigers as possible trade fits.
Figgins, 33 in January, has hit just .236/.309/.285 with 53 steals in 74 chances during his two years in Seattle. He can play second and third bases, and has also filled in at left field in recent years. There are still two years and $17MM left on his contract, and a $9MM option for 2014 will vest with 600 plate appearances in 2013. It's not unreasonable to think the Mariners will have to eat upwards of $15MM to move Figgins.
Upon joining the Cubs, Theo Epstein will leave behind one contractual headache in John Lackey and acquire another one in Carlos Zambrano, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The difference between the two, as a National League scout pointed out, is that Zambrano could once again be a top-of-the-rotation hurler while some doubt if Lackey is even a No. 4 or 5 starter. The answer for both clubs could be a "garbage-for-garbage" deal that allows them to exchange one bad contract for another. Some prime candidates include Chone Figgins, Barry Zito, Vernon Wells, and Derek Lowe. Here more from Cafardo..
- While Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is an interesting free agent possibility for the Red Sox if they could get him on a two-year deal. The veteran could be their No. 5 starter or serve as a strong lefty in the bullpen.
- It's hard to tell if David Ortiz is serious about leaving the "drama" of Boston for the Yankees, but the veteran wouldn't be a fit in New York as they have no need for a DH.
- A.J. Hinch, the vice president of pro scouting for the Padres, could have interest from teams like the Red Sox, and possibly the Cubs with Epstein there. Las Vegas agrees, as oddsmaker Jimmy Shapiro placed Hinch as the odds-on favorite to get the Sox managerial job. Meanwhile, Josh Byrnes is currently a special assistant with San Diego and could depart for a bigger role with Epstein in Chicago.
- Mariners skipper Eric Wedge is a very interesting name that could be involved in the Red Sox’s managerial search. However, getting Wedge out of his deal in Seattle could be a problem as he has a good deal of personnel power there.
- Tony La Russa would be an interesting choice for Boston, but it appears he'll be staying in St. Louis or retiring. La Russa has always spoken fondly of the city, but it doesn’t appear at this stage of his career that he would want to deal with some of the issues in the BoSox organization.
- Brian Cashman's contract extension is nowhere near done. The Yankees GM’s deal expires at the end of the month, but neither side is feeling any pressure to get something completed.
- Meanwhile, Cashman's top two assistants, Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer, are being interviewed by the Angels for their GM job. Cashman told the paper that he feels both men are absolutely qualified to take the next step. Recently, our own Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke with Oppenheimer about the possibility of becoming a GM.
- Cafardo wonders if history will be kinder to Dan Duquette now that the Theo Epstein era is concluding in Boston. Duquette never won a championship as the Red Sox's GM but the 2004 team certainly had his fingerprints on it. Now working as a business consultant, the longtime MLB exec never got the chance to be a GM again, but hasn't ruled out doing so in the right situation.
The Reds have strong interest in Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, says Knobler, and have looked into Rodriguez. Wandy would be much easier to acquire in general, though there is the wrinkle of trading with a division rival and a GM who might fear losing his job in Ed Wade.
Figgins and Crisp would fit the Reds as leadoff types, though neither is getting on base much this year. The Mariners would likely pick up much of the $19.9MM that will be owed to Figgins through 2013. Figgins or Crisp would presumably play left field for the Reds.
No American League West team is truly out of contention. The Rangers lead the way with a 40-36 record, the Mariners and Angels are hovering around .500 and the A's are back within 5.5 games of the division lead after a recent six-game winning streak. Here's the latest on the AL West:
- The Mariners still owe Chone Figgins over $20MM between now and the end of the 2013 season, but the infielder is playing poorly, so Larry Stone of the Seattle Times runs through the team's options. Stone concludes that the Mariners probably have to cut down on Figgins’ playing time and hope he finally heats up so that they can get some value from him, either in a trade or on the field.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins told Kevin Baxter of the LA Times that international free agency is an increasingly important and challenging source of talent for MLB teams. This year's international signing period begins July 2nd (link via the Baltimore Sun).
- One scout for a contending team told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Josh Willingham's Achilles injury could scare teams considering the outfielder as a possible trade target. The A's put Willingham on the disabled list, but he could return in early July, in time to reestablish his trade value.
As Anthony Rizzo prepares for his Major League debut tomorrow with the Padres, it was one year ago today that Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton both made their first appearances in the majors. Both star prospects lived up to the hype -- Strasburg recorded 14 strikeouts and no walks in seven innings against the Pirates, while Stanton went 3-for-5 (all singles) and scored twice against the Phillies.
Some items from around the league...
- The Diamondbacks were judged as the biggest winners of the amateur draft, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Mayo spoke to a number of scouts to produce a list of the five teams who had the best drafts, with three AL East teams making the cut.
- Fangraphs' Joe Pawlikowski wonders how long the Mariners can afford to keep putting Chone Figgins in the lineup. Pawlikowski also predicts that the Giants will release Miguel Tejada once Pablo Sandoval returns from the DL.
- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will be able to meet the team's payroll on June 15, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- In a radio appearance on the Mut & Merloni Show today, Peter Gammons noted the lack of top-quality arms available at this year's trade deadline. Gammons said a pitching-needy team like the Yankees would have to look at pitchers like Brett Myers or Edwin Jackson, while he shoots down the idea that Felix Hernandez, Francisco Liriano or any of the Athletics' young arms would be on the market. WEEI's Jerry Spar has the full transcript of Gammons' appearance here.
7:06pm: Regardless of whether or not Figgins would allow a trade to the A's, talks appear to be dead. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link) hears from a source that "nothing is going to happen," and ESPN.com's Buster Olney says (via Twitter) that the Mariners, who talked to Oakland three weeks ago, aren't motivated to move Figgins.
3:47pm: We heard yesterday about a proposed trade that would've sent Chone Figgins from Seattle to Oakland, but the rumored deal would have hinged on Figgins accepting the move, given that the A's are one of the teams on his no-trade list. Speaking to fans and media -- including Larry Stone of the Seattle Times -- at the Mariners' FanFest event on Saturday, Figgins said he didn't want to be traded anywhere.
"I always said, it's a great thing to be wanted,'' Figgins said. "But I want to win here. I've said all along, this has been one of the best places I've ever played -- the city, the fans. I'll always love playing here. This is where I want to be, and until they force me out of here, this is where I'm going to be.''
"I've been on the trade block for years, even with the Angels. Like I said, it's always a great thing to be wanted, but I'm a Seattle Mariner. I'm going to play third base unless they rip the jersey off me.''
Figgins briefly spoke to Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik at the event, and Zduriencik told reporters that their chat was the first time the two had spoken since the trade rumors broke yesterday.
"I just let Chone know how things get started," Zduriencik said. "In this game, it's interesting how things get started. It happens all the time. You have general managers talk, agents talk about players - I'm not referring to this particular situation, but the next thing you know, someone is putting two and two together and coming up with five."
This would seem to put an end to this trade speculation for the time being, unless the rumors about the Blue Jays as a third team involved in the deal develop into a seperate Toronto-Oakland swap involving Kevin Kouzmanoff. The Jays are in the market for a third baseman, though it's hard to see why the Athletics would create their own hole at third by moving Kouzmanoff without getting another third baseman (like Figgins) in return.