Bad Contract of the Day to Swap Jason Bay With: Chone Figgins
After posting his second consecutive subpar season for the Mets, Jason Bay proved his lucrative $66 million, four-year deal was a complete bust. And even though Bay did see his homerun total double (from 6 homeruns to 12 homeruns), he also saw a decline in batting average (from .259 to .245), on-base percentage (from .347 to .329), slugging percentage (from .402 to .374), and ISO (from .144 to .128).
Bay has a guaranteed $35 million over the next two seasons (including his $3 million buyout for 2014), which makes him an incredibly difficult person to trade. However, despite how bad Bay’s contract is, there is a good chance the Mets could swap him for today’s “Bad Contract of the Day to Swap Jason Bay With,” infielder Chone Figgins.
As much as New York Mets fan are disappointed with Jason Bay’s production, Seattle Mariners fans are probably even more fed up with Chone Figgins. After being one of the more dynamic speedsters in the American League from 2004 to 2009 for the Los Angeles Angels, the Mariners happily signed Figgins to a $36 million, four-year deal. The Mariners were hoping that the combination of Ichiro Suzuki and Figgins atop their lineup would become a unique on-base menace. The only menace, however, was how bad Figgins performed.
In 2010, Figgins slumped from his .298/.395/.393 line the season before to a .259/.340/.306 line for the Mariners. Even though he stole the same amount of bases in 2010 as he did in 2009 (42 SB), his walk rate dropped 3.4% (from 13.9% to 10.5%), and he started uncharacteristically swinging at a lot of bad pitches (from 15.1% swings at pitches outside the strikezone to 20.8%). In addition, the infielder couldn’t duplicate his Gold Glove-worthy defense at third base (17.9 UZR/150) when the Mariners shifted him to their vacant second base hole (-12.6 UZR/150). Considering Figgins posted a terrific 6.9 WAR in 2009, his pedestrian 1.1 WAR in 2010 was an obvious disappointment–unless you consider leading the league in sacrifice bunts (17!) as a major accomplishment.
Down season aside, some folks were willing to give Figgins a “first season adjustment” pass–but things only worsened in 2011. Figgins stumbled out of the gate in April, posting a collective .214/.261/.311 line. As terrible as he hit, it was, ironically, his best month of the season. The 33 year-old proceeded to post a .163/.198/.196 line in May, .172/.234/.224 line in June, and .176/.282/.176 line in July. Figgins played so poorly, that the Mariners benched him in favor of Adam Kennedy. Yes, Adam Kennedy. And as if Figgins’ season couldn’t get any worse, the infielder was placed on the disabled list with a right hip flexor strain in early August, which eventually knocked him out the rest of the season. On the whole, Figgins owned a career-worst .188/.241/.243 line with just 11 stolen bases (not to mention being thrown-out 6 times to boot). The Mariners decision to move Figgins back to third base after the failed second base experiment was the only “highlight” of the season, as he posted a good 4.5 UZR/150 in 679.6 innings.
Going in 2012, the only remaining skill Figgins appears to still possess is his defense at third base. Both his speed (from 42 SB in 702 PA’s to 11 SB in 313 PA’s), and BB% (from 10.5% to 6.7%) have declined mightily, and while his unfortunate .215 BABIP helped fuel his career-low .188 BA, his .243 SLG/.056 ISO illuminate how worthless of a hitter he truly is. Without the ability to steal a base or smack a double, Figgins doesn’t project to even be a fringe starting player.
In regards to his hypothetical value to the Mets, Figgins could technically be given another shot at second base–or just fill the back-up infielder/utility role. Also, Figgins “just” makes $17 million over the next two seasons, whereas Jason Bay will earn $35 million in the same time span. Given how poorly Figgins played in 2011, it’s possible the Mets wouldn’t even have to send cash along in the deal. However, with the Mets decision to move-in the walls, there’s a slight chance Bay’s once significant power could return. That combined with Bay’s still relevant on-base skills, and the Mets better [starting and back-up] options at second base and third base sort of negates the prospect of a Figgins for Bay swap.