Both Conor and I have made it pretty clear that we are fans of Chone Figgins, and we really wish he was wearing a Yankees uniform. Ken Rosenthal has an article up on our boy Figgins, and his future. Rosenthal has a few interesting comparisons...
The Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews deals...complete failures
The Brian Roberts Extension...we'll see
The thing with Figgins, for me is that he is so versatile. He can play 2nd, SS, 3rd, LF, CF, and RF. He's crazy fast. Like Brett Gardner fast. And he's a free agent after this year. The Angels have Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick, and Maicer Izturis, so Chone isn't integral to their future. He may cost a pretty penny, but I say he's worth it.
We have Hideki Matsui($13mm), Johnny Damon ($13mm), Xavier Nady($6.55mm) , Andy Pettitte ($5.5mm) and Jose Molina ($2mm) coming off the books. That's a total of just over $40mm Most likely we'll see Austin Romine or Francisco Cervelli take over for Molina at the league minimum. We'll see Phil Hughes take over for Pettitte, also at the league minimum. Nady's RF spot will obviously be occupied by SuperSwisher, who is already on the roster/payroll. Hideki Matsui has been playing DH, and I personally don't like to designate someone for that roll unless they can really really hit. We'll have the aging Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter who will all need an occasional rest at the DH spot. And we have some youngsters like Jorge Vasquez and Juan Miranda who could take on that role. Johnny Damon is the most irreplacable part we have leaving, but there will be plenty of free agent options available such as Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Rick Ankiel, Carl Crawford (he has a club option, but we'll see), and Jermaine Dye ( who has a $12mm mutual option). So say that Matt Holliday bats .450/.550/.600 for the rest of the year (yes I know I'm being ridiculous and unrealistic, it is intended) and we sign him...he's still not going to get more than $25mm a year, so we'd still have $15mm coming off the books. Then of course CC's salary jumps up $9mm, so we're at $6mm off the books. And Swish gets about a $1.5mm bump, so $4.5mm off the books. But, we have to pay Jason Giambi's $5mm buyout this year, and not next, so we actually would have $9.5mm off the books. I think that at the very most Figgins could get $10mm a year for 4 years. So we add a total of $500K to our payroll, at the very most. So financially, it isn't really a burden. Also, Alex Rodriguez will turn 35 in '10, and Jeter will turn 36 in '10, so injury risks could be high, and as we know, pluggin in a Cody Ransom/Angel Berroa/Ramiro Pena crew just doesn't cut it. We need someone that can step in and be effective.
By losing Johnny Damon we are losing our only established starter that has real speed (B-Gard isn't established, and A-Rod and Jeter aren't exactly speed demons). So, bringing in Figgins gives us some speed on the basepaths, which we could use. Figgins has a career .356 OBP and has stolen at least 34 bases every year since 04, his tops being 62 in '05, He is that leadoff hitter we need so badly. Sure, Jeter's leading off right now, in part because of his DP tendencies, but if Figgins gets on 1st and Jeter comes to the plate, Figgins will either A. Steal 2nd B. Break up the double play or C. Burn a path of fire in the dirt from his feet that move like a Ferrarri. Yes, DJ will hit into some double plays, but it really can't hurt to have Figgins in front of him. And if you really want Figgins to bat second then you can be sure he'll go from 1st to 3rd on a lot of A-Rod or Tex singles, and if they get extra bases he can probably score from first. Yes, he IS that fast. Figgins will get worked into games because we''ll always like to rest someone, be it on the bench or in the DH spot, and so he'll be an everyday player, just without an everyday position.
If we're thinking about the outfield...our 2010 in house candidates are currently Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, and Nick Swisher. I'm assuming Swisher will be in right, and AJax will probably take over center, barring a huge year from the Melkman or BGard. We'll most likely use free agency to pick up a left-fielder, or see if there is a team trying to dump salary that could get us someone for left. But, say we can't get a left fielder. Or say SuperSwisher flies into some kryptonite, Harlan Chamberlain forbid! Or say that AJax isn't ready as the year starts, well BAM..Chone Figgins. He'll get on base, and bring phenomenal speed and stellar defense, and he'll play wherever we need him to play. He'll step up and take on the role of starting outfielder if need be.
There is no downside to signing Figgins. There will always be a spot for a speedy guy who gets on base and can play wherever you need him. And he'll save us from ever having to deal with Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa again.