Figgins, Mariners finalize deal
The former Los Angeles Angels sparkplug finalized his $36 million, four-year contract with Seattle on Tuesday, a deal that includes a vesting option for 2014 that could make it worth $45 million over five years.
Figgins, however, might not necessarily replace free-agent slugger Adrian Beltre at third base.
"He's open to playing anywhere in the infield," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "There's still some moving parts here. You know, at the end, if he's our third baseman, we'll be very happy."
The 31-year-old Figgins was primarily a third baseman in each of his last three seasons with the Angels. But he has played 113 major league games at second base and 27 at shortstop.
"They still have to make some decisions," Figgins said by telephone Tuesday night, adding that his conversation with Zduriencik left him figuring he would probably play second base if not third.
Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez, an All-Star in 2006, batted .272 with 25 homers, 96 RBIs and 42 doubles this year. But he walked only 24 times in 653 plate appearances and finished with a .303 on-base percentage.
Figgins, a diminutive speedster, hit .298 with five homers and 54 RBIs as Los Angeles won its third consecutive AL West title. Beltre had 25 or 26 homers in three straight seasons before dropping to eight this year during an injury-plagued campaign.
"Everybody in baseball would love to have three-run homers," Zduriencik said. "We'd love to have power. I mean, there's no question about it. I think we've had some discussions about acquiring power. Where that takes you, we'll see."
Figgins gets a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of $8 million next year, $9 million each in 2011 and 2012 and $8 million in 2013. The $9 million option for 2014 becomes guaranteed if he has 600 plate appearances in 2013.
He is coming off one of his best seasons. Figgins led the American League with 101 walks and posted a career-high on-base percentage of .395, earning a late spot on his first All-Star squad when he replaced an injured Evan Longoria in July.
Figgins also scored 114 runs, second in the league to Boston's Dustin Pedroia, and stole 42 bases. He is a .291 career hitter who has averaged 48 steals during eight major league seasons, all with the Angels.
"I would have loved to stay with the Angels ... but things were different," he said. "They chose to go a different way, and I chose to go a different way.
"I was wanted there," he said of Seattle. "It's always good to be wanted."
He gives Seattle a formidable duo at the top of its batting order with nine-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki, whom Figgins called "one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time."
"Chone, you know, when we called him and congratulated him, the first thing he said, 'I'm going to bat second, right?'" Zduriencik said. "I said, 'Yeah, probably, but, you know, we'll see how that works out.' ... However it plays itself out, it's two pretty good players at the top of your lineup."
Figgins knows Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and many of Seattle's coaches because they coached him in the Angels organization. He said it will be "an honor" to hit behind Suzuki.
"Us being 1-2 at the top of the order is going to be very interesting," Figgins said. "And a lot of fun."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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