Chone Figgins was expected to give the Seattle Mariners a spark when he signed a $36 million, four-year contract with them in December 2009.
Instead, he was an expensive burden in three lackluster seasons.
The Mariners finally conceded the deal didn’t work, designating Figgins for assignment Tuesday night.
Cutting ties with Figgins was one of a number of moves the Mariners made to get their 40-man roster set. The Mariners also designated outfielder Scott Cousins, who was claimed off waivers from Toronto on Nov. 6.
But it was the decision to finally end Figgins’ tenure that was most costly.
”At the time of the signing it looked like it was going to be the right thing for all of us,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. ”He was excited about coming here. … It just never worked out like he thought and sometimes you just never know why.”
Figgins will be paid the remaining $8 million on a contract that included a $9 million performance-triggered option for 2014.
Figgins’ never found success in Seattle. His versatility in the infield and teaming with Ichiro Suzuki at the top of Seattle’s batting order were seen as strengths when the Mariners signed the free agent who had excelled for the Angels.
Yet Figgins underperformed to a startling degree. He never hit lower than .267 in any full season with the Angels, yet the .257 he hit in his first season in Seattle was his best – by a lot. He batted just .188 in 2011. Last year he was relegated to part-time player on May 9, when he was hitting .188 after being given a shot as the everyday starter at third base and leadoff hitter to begin the season.
He hit .227 in 304 games with Seattle and had an on-base percentage of just .302.
Zduriencik said Figgins became an ”expendable piece,” as the Mariners moved to protect some younger prospects on their 40-man roster. He could be traded in the next 10 days but will likely be released. Zduriencik said he already went down the road of trying to trade Figgins with no luck.
”I had a lot of calls and there was some curiosity if you will, but I didn’t have anyone say I would take him otherwise we wouldn’t have got to this point,” Zduriencik said.
Seattle claimed Cousins with the belief that if they didn’t need his roster spot to protect prospects that he could come to spring training with the chance at winning a job.
Removing Figgins and Cousins helped Seattle protect some of its youngest prospects. The Mariners added pitchers Anthony Fernandez, Bobby LaFromboise, Brandon Maurer; infielder Vinnie Catricala and outfielder Julio Morban to the 40-man roster. Catricala was the Mariners 2011 minor league player of the year, while Maurer was the Double-A Southern League most outstanding pitcher in 2012.