Figgins released with $8M still on contract
With one season and $8 million still remaining on his four-year contract, the Mariners cut ties with Chone Figgins on Tuesday as the veteran infielder was designated for assignment as part of a series of roster moves.
Figgins, 34, hit just .181 in 66 games last season and had become a lightning rod for fans unhappy with the team’s offensive struggles over the past few years.
“These decisions are driven by what a player does on the the field and when you get to the point he may no longer be part of this club going forward , you have to make decisions,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik. “He just became an expendable piece and that’s just it. That’s the end of the story.”
Zduriencik said he spoke with Figgins earlier in the evening and “wished him the best” in finding a new team.
“He was very gracious,” Zduriencik said. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out the way he thought or we thought, but it’s time to turn the page and move forward.”
The Mariners also designated outfielder Scott Cousins for assignment, just two weeks week after claiming him off waivers from the Blue Jays.
The Mariners also selected five Minor Leaguers to their Major League roster – adding infielder Vinnie Catricala, outfielder Julio Morban and pitchers Anthony Fernandez, Bobby LaFromboise and Brandon Maurer — as they finalized their 40-man roster prior to Tuesday night’s deadline to protect players from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
Seattle’s roster was at 37 players prior to the moves, so the club dropped Figgins and Cousins and added the five young prospects to reach the 40-man limit. They’ll need to make further moves to create roster space if they add any players in free agency, trades or the Rule 5 draft.
By designating Figgins for assignment, the team now has 10 days to trade, release or outright the veteran before he becomes a free agent. If he clears waivers and is not traded, he will be released, Zduriecik said.
The Mariners still are responsible for the final year on the $36 million deal Figgins signed as a free agent in 2010. There also is a $9 million vesting option for 2015 that would kick in with 600 plate appearances this coming season, but that option will be voided if he’s released.
Zduriencik said he has tried unsuccessfully to find a trading partner for Figgins, but that most GMs can “read the tea leaves” and see that he was likely going to be released.
As for why Figgins never worked out in Seattle?
“It’s hard to say,” Zduriencik said. “Anybody’s guess would be as good as mine. At the time of the signing, it looked like the right thing for allof us. He ws excited about coming here and we thought it would be an interesting dimension with he and Ichiro. But it just never worked out and sometimes you have to make a deicison and move on and we did that today.”