Figgins released … and Cirillo on Hall of Fame ballot

Coincidence, certainly. But interesting nonetheless that the Mariners officially released Chone Figgins today — eight days after he was designated for assignment last Tuesday — on the same day that Jeff Cirillo’s name was placed on the 2013 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

The Figgins’ news was just a matter of time. Once a team DFA’s a player, they have 10 days to trade, release or designate him for assignment to the Minors. The Mariners weren’t going to send Figgins down, he had enough MLB service time to refuse such a move anyway.

And they’ve tried to trade him, but  nothing came of that for some time now as any team that wants him can merely wait until he’s released and then make him an offer. So the Figgins Era is over after three years in Seattle and he leaves with a nice parting gift …  the $8 million still owed on his 2013 contract.

By all measures, Figgins’ time in Seattle was a disaster as he hit .227 with a .585 OPS in three seasons after signing a four-year, $36 million deal in free agency. This from a guy coming off an All-Star season in Anaheim where he posted a .291 batting average and .751 OPS in eight previous season.

Which brings us to Cirillo. Certainly a lot of Mariners fans were stunned to see his name included among the first-time players on the Hall of Fame ballot, along with two other former Mariners in closer Jose Mesa and starter Aaron Sele.

But Cirillo was a very good player before he got to Seattle, a guy who hit .320 or higher in four of five seasons from 1996-2000 and owned a .310 career batting average when the Mariners signed him after eight years with the Brewers and two with the Rockies.

He turned out to be a right-hander who couldn’t solve Safeco Field, however, and hit just .234 in two seasons while earning $13 million and departing — much like Figgins — as a target of much fan derision.

Cirillo played short stints with a few other teams before retiring in 2007 with a career .296 average and two All-Star appearances to his name. No, he won’t get a lot of Hall of Fame votes, but it’s a pretty nice honor to be included on the ballot and a good reminder that while sometimes things just don’t work for guys in certain situations, it doesn’t mean they weren’t good ballplayers.

Here’s a good rundown on some of the first-time players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot that won’t get a lot of votes, but had good careers.

Meanwhile, there is another ex-Mariner on the Hall of Fame ballot, of course, with Edgar Martinez getting his fourth shot. Edgar talked to my MLB.com colleague Doug Miller and acknowledged – again — that he’s going to be patient and see how things play out.

Otherwise, we’re moving toward the Winter Meetings next week in Nashville, Tenn., where things figure to pick up on the free agent and trade fronts. I have a story today on one of last year’s breakout players, reliever Charlie Furbush, with Jack Zduriencik saying he expects Furbush to remain in the bullpen after his excellent 2012.

I found it interesting that Zduriencik told me a few days ago that he’s open to adding another starter this offseason. While all the talk has been about adding offense, Zduriencik isn’t ready to proclaim his rotation set at this point.

That makes sense, given there’s no need to rush young prospects to the Majors until they’re ready and the Mariners have always been able to attract quality pitching, in large part because of Safeco Field.

How the new fences affect things next year remains to be seen, just one of many questions to be answered in 2013.

2 Comments

I have no problem with Zduriencik looking into adding another starter as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of upgrading other areas of greater need. Starting pitchers get hurt and having more depth is always okay with me.

Please, please encourage your fellow writers to vote for Edgar for the HoF.

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