Discussion: Chone Figgins

We haven't spent a lot of time talking about Figgins here, probably under the assumption that the Astros won't be able to pick him up on the free agent market.  But what if they did?  He likely won't be much more expensive than Miguel Tejada.  What will create more demand is his versatility.  He'd be a great fit with the Astros, as he would be on most of the other teams in baseball.

The nice thing about Figgins is that he's still in the prime of his career (age 31) and he's not a reclamation project.  You know what you're getting with him--over .350 OBP and over 30 stolen bases, with stellar defense at the hot corner.  A one-two punch of Bourn then Figgins would be one of the best leadoff combinations in the NL, with OBP and a serious stolen base threat whenever either was on base.

Figgins is likely to ask for a long multi-year contract, but so what?  Look at our organizational depth.  Offensively, our current needs are catcher (to be filled soon by J.R. Towles and/or Jason Castro), shortstop (Tommy Manzella, Wladimir Sutil, Jiovanni Mier), and second base (one more year of Kazuo before we have to worry about it, and Figgins can play a decent 2B).

The starting rotation isn't great right now, but as I discussed in a recent post, we have a lot of young pitching depth which is already big league-ready.  Some of those pitchers may mature into solid starters for the middle or back of the rotation.  Even if they don't, there are more on the way up from the lower levels of the farm system, some of whom could be ready as early as 2011.

Third base, on the other hand, is a big hole we're not likely to fill using the farm for some time yet.  Signing up for years of a reliable free agent wouldn't be a bad thing; we'd lose payroll flexibility, but it's money that would be best spent at the position anyway.

And let's not forget that Figgins is a defensive force.  With Figgins and Manzella, the left side of our infield would presumably be one of the strongest in the game.

But again we get back to the cost and the demand for his services.  Figgins may require a big offer to get him away from other teams like the Angels.  I could easily see him asking for $50 million over four years, for instance.

The front office is a problem, too.  They don't properly value OBP-heavy guys, for some stupid reason.  But Figgins does offer a solid batting average, great defense, and a lot of speed, which they do appreciate, so it's not out of the question.

So, let's discuss.  If it means getting locked into a $10MM+ per year contract over multiple years, would it be worthwhile to make a run at Chone Figgins?  What are your thoughts?

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