The Braves lost Chipper Jones to a season-ending injury, so they’ll now give some thought to players outside the organization. Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner believes the Mariners "should be focusing on future wins," so he suggests a Chone Figgins for Kenshin Kawakami trade.
Figgins has more than $28MM remaining on his contract, so the Braves would presumably want salary relief in any deal. Could Atlanta ship Kawakami to Seattle for Figgins? Cameron suggests that would be a good deal for Seattle. Let’s consider the possibility, starting with the two players:
- He earns $2.25MM before the end of the season, $9MM in 2011, $9MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013. There's a vesting option for 2014.
- The 32-year-old has hit .253/.343/.303 in 494 plate appearances with 30 steals in 38 attempts.
- In his last 15 games, Figgins is batting .397/.426/.500.
- Among qualified hitters, only Cesar Izturis has a lower slugging percentage
- Figgins has played exclusively at second base this year, but can also play third
- Recent UZR data suggests Figgins is a strong defender at third, but below average at second.
- About 17% of 2,000-plus MLBTR readers believe the Braves will acquire Figgins.
- He earns $1.9MM before the end of this season and $6.7MM in 2011.
- He has a 4.75 ERA in 83.1 innings with 6.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.
- The Braves, who removed Kawakami from the rotation in June, barely used him as a reliever, so they shipped him to the minors, where he'll build stamina in case the team needs him.
The Braves have Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Derek Lowe in their rotation and appear to lack faith in Kawakami. He is expendable and the Braves could use an infielder, though Omar Infante, Martin Prado, Brooks Conrad and Eric Hinske give the club enough flexibility to get by without making a move.
The first place Braves want to win now, especially since it's Bobby Cox's final season as manager. Swapping a player they don't rely on at all for Figgins would probably help the team in 2010. Figgins has next to no power and has a substantial amount remaining on his contract, but has been an above-average player for a while and was fantastic as recently as last year.
The Mariners wouldn't necessarily improve their chances of winning now if they sent Figgins to Atlanta for Kawakami, but, as Cameron points out, it probably makes sense for the team to focus on winning in 2012. Shedding most or all of Figgins' contract would allow them to spend on other needs. This hypothetical deal would help the win-now Braves in the short term and the win-later Mariners in the long term, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the clubs consider this swap.