The Seattle Mariners have designated Chone Figgins for assignment, three years after signing him to a four year, $36 million deal that hurt the team more than it helped it. Seattle will eat the $8 million Figgins is due to earn in 2013.
In three seasons with the Mariners, Figgins provided Seattle with -0.8 fWAR in 308 games. He was demoted from a starting position in 2011, and didn't even log 200 plate appearances with the team in 2012 due to his horrendous play. Considering that 2010, the first year of the deal, was the best seasons Figgins had as a Mariner, and he only had a .646 OPS in that season, the move makes a ton of sense.
Figgins played five positions with the Mariners (second, third, and all three outfield spots), but struggled defensively according to both UZR and DRS at all five, with the exception of third base, a moot point after the emergence in 2012 of Kyle Seager. Seattle's signing of Figgins in December of 2009 was considered an overpay at the time after a 2009 season when the 31-year old Figgins had a career year, posting a .788 OPS with five homers, 42 stolen bases, and a 13.9% walk rate. His performance cratered after that year, and he'll go into the 2013 season looking for a job as a 35-year old who has had two terrible seasons in the majors.
Some team will likely give Figgins a shot as a utility player, and quite frankly, it's not an awful move, considering they could have him for the league minimum. The worst case scenario is that Figgins performs as he did over the last two seasons, and he gets released. At best, you might get a capable bench bat for half a million dollars, which is a pretty solid commodity in today's game.
The Mariners didn't have much of a choice here. Seager and Dustin Ackley are tied into the infield postiions that Figgins played, and someone with a bat as anemic as his can't play the outfield every day. A relatively low budget team like the Mariners also can't really afford to have $8 million in dead money just sitting on the bench and eating a roster spot, so it's good for them to just move on and go in another direction.