Should The Mariners Trade Chone Figgins?

Dave · August 12, 2010 at 2:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A few weeks ago, we learned that the Braves and Mariners had a discussion about Chone Figgins before the July 31st trade deadline. The Braves, in search of a leadoff hitter and a guy who could play multiple positions for them, saw Figgins as the kind of guy they could use and get on the cheap, since he’d been a bust in Seattle so far. The Mariners reportedly rebuffed Atlanta’s advances, and the talks didn’t go anywhere.

Well, with today’s news that Chipper Jones has a torn ACL ans is done for 2010, you have to imagine that Frank Wren will at least call Jack Z to broach the subject again. With three years and $26 million left on his deal from 2011 to 2013, it is almost certain that Figgins would clear waivers and could be traded if the Mariners were so inclined. Given that he’s been on fire since August began, and the Braves are now a bit more in need of his services, you’d have to imagine the offer would be even better than it was a few weeks ago. So, that raises the question – should the M’s consider dealing Figgins if the Braves are interested, and if so, what should the asking price be?

Let’s just start with the facts. Figgins is set to make $9 million in each of the next two years, $8 million in the final guaranteed year of the deal, and then there’s a vesting option for 2014 that becomes guaranteed if he gets 600 plate appearances the year prior. This is not an outrageous salary by any means – he’s essentially getting paid like a league average player. However, if you were Jack Zduriencik, looking at the current roster and where the team was in relation to the AL West heading into next year, is that a contract you would offer Figgins as a free agent this winter?

I think the answer has to be no. For a contender, there’s a decent chance that Figgins is worth that much money. The marginal value of a win that pushes you from out of the playoffs into October baseball is huge. For a team like the Braves, who are fighting with the Phillies for one playoff spot, the opportunity to make an upgrade, even if its not a huge one, has a lot of value. For the Mariners, who have no chance of contending this year and probably a longshot at best chance next year, the wins that Figgins will add don’t have a lot of value.

Realistically, the Mariners are probably still going to be breaking in Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, Justin Smoak, and Adam Moore next year. It isn’t realistic to expect them to hit the ground running and carry this team to a 90 win season, but it’s also not prudent to block their devleopment by bringing in more proven MLB players. The 2011 Mariners are going to be a young team, and barring some huge breakout years from a couple of those guys, they’re probably not going to be able to keep up with Texas.

So, even if Figgins returns to previous form and is a +3 win player next year, those wins probably won’t put the Mariners over the top. By the time this team may be ready to be a legitimate contender in 2012, Figgins will be 34. Do you want to count on him still being an above average player in a few years? More importantly, are you willing to give up a significant chunk of the payroll now in order to find out?

Beyond just the value of the wins added, there’s a question of the natural fit for Figgins here in Seattle. The core of this team’s offense going forward is Ichiro, Gutierrez, Saunders, Smoak, and Ackley – three left-handed bats, a switch-hitter who struggles against lefties, and a right-hander who is in the line-up for his defense. If you keep Figgins, the only open positions where you could potentially get some legitimate offense from a right-handed hitter are SS, C, and DH. You can essentially eliminate the first two spots because guys who play those positions and can hit just aren’t available, so that leaves just DH for the M’s to balance out the line-up and give them someone who can provide some offense against southpaws.

Of course, as we’ve seen, Safeco isn’t a great place for right-handed sluggers, so you don’t really want the Mariners to throw a lot of money at a bat-only guy who hits from that side. In reality, the M’s probably should be looking to fill third base with a young, right-handed (or switch-hitting) third baseman with some power. That way, they could use the DH on a big slugging lefty who can take advantage of Safeco and provide some thump while also still having the kind of hitter in the line-up that doesn’t let teams just mow through the batting order every time they toss a left-hander out there.

If you keep Figgins, there’s no room for that kind of bat. As we’ve seen every time the M’s face a lefty lately, it’s a problem. You just won’t be able to generate much offense against LHPs with some combination of Figgins, Gutierrez, Smoak, Moore, and shortstop du jour as the right-handed bats in the line-up. The core of this team is missing a guy liike Adrian Beltre, who wasn’t just a good glove at third, but could also hit a good southpaw when they took the hill.

I won’t go so far as to say that signing Figgins was a mistake. The move made sense at the time, given the Mariners needs and the idea that they could make a run at the division title this year. However, circumstances have changed, and Figgins is no longer a great fit this team’s future. As they forge ahead with some young talent that probably needs another year of maturation, the aging veteran with a decent sized contract makes more sense for a team in win now mode than a team building for the future.

If the Braves are willing to take Figgins’ contract, the M’s should let them have him, then reallocate that money and position on a player who better fits what the team is now trying to do. Given the financial situation of most teams in baseball, the deal probably wouldn’t be that easy – the Braves would probably want the M’s to take some money back in order to stay under budget. That may end up being the sticking point.

The only two guys under contract for 2011 that the Braves would be willing to part with are Kenshin Kawakami and Nate McLouth. Given that the M’s are basically set in the outfield, McLouth won’t interest them at all, especially at $6.5 million for next year. Kawakami, though, is a bit more interesting. A starting pitcher who has been displaced by the Braves pitching depth, he’s a lot better than his W/L record would indicate – in two years in the big leagues, he’s posted a 4.57 xFIP, basically making him a league average starting pitcher. He’d take a bit of a hit coming to the AL, but he’d also pick up some value by coming to Safeco Field and pitching in front of the M’s defense.

At $6.7 million for next year, he’s a bit pricey for what he is, but not absurdly so. He could serve as an innings sponge for a team that could use one, helping fill a hole in the rotation that doesn’t have a natural answer for 2011. Given his pitcher type and the environment, there’s a decent chance that he could even become an asset for the organization, a guy they could move next summer as a low cost starting pitcher who had rejuvenated his career in a more friendly environment.

Would I rather pay Kawakami $6.7 million for one year or pay Figgins $26 million for three years? The former, and given the Braves current situation, you might be able to do even better than that. Whether its getting them to kick in some of the money owed to Kawakami for next year or kicking in a mid-level prospect in order to make the deal happen, this is the kind of move that the Mariners should be willing to make.

The Braves could use Figgins more than the Mariners, who should be focusing on future wins and building out their young core more than maximizing their current product. Getting out from under the rest of his deal while bringing in a potentially useful pitcher for 2011 makes too much sense to pass up. This is something that I hope Jack Z seriously explores. Signing Figgins made sense at the time – trading him now makes even more sense.

Comments

102 Responses to “Should The Mariners Trade Chone Figgins?”

  1. Drew Garret on August 12th, 2010 2:25 pm

    This makes great sense. The two lead off batters just hasn’t produced as projected.

  2. joealb1 on August 12th, 2010 2:35 pm

    Not to mention that it would rid the team of a jerk who went after his manager.

  3. currcoug on August 12th, 2010 2:41 pm

    A bold post, Dave…and for once, I agree with just about everything you said.

  4. The Ancient Mariner on August 12th, 2010 2:43 pm

    Way to be judgmental, joealb1 — and way to assume that you know more than you do.

    As for Figgins, I like him and I won’t be at all upset if we keep him . . . but I like the idea of dealing him for Kawakami even better, especially if we can pick up a prospect as well. Even leaving the money aside (which of course one can’t), I think Kawakami would fill a bigger need this year and next than Figgins — and if having him in the rotation reduces the pressure to rush Pineda, so much the better.

  5. diderot on August 12th, 2010 2:44 pm

    Off the top of my head, I think there are arguments on both sides, but I disagree with this.
    The value of the trade is getting out from under the contract. In other words, we could spend the money better elsewhere.
    But I just don’t see that.
    Even if Ackley is able to move up next season, that still leaves us with a gaping hole on the left side of the infield. And I don’t see a single free agent who remotely makes sense for either short or third, particularly given our stated youth movement.
    If the Braves are desperate enough to give up more than a Kawakami, maybe. But as stated, I’m voting no.
    If Figgy has value now, he also will in the offseason…where more suitors might get involved.

  6. 3cardmonty on August 12th, 2010 2:49 pm

    Dave–

    When you say we should go after a power-hitting third baseman, that seems to go against the argument made during the offseason when some people worried about the lineup’s lack of power: that a win is a win is a win and it doesn’t matter whether it’s accomplished by scoring or preventing runs. Have you changed your tune on this at all or have you just gotten tired of watching this offense? (Or am I just misstating your position?)

  7. diderot on August 12th, 2010 2:52 pm

    that seems to go against the argument made during the offseason when some people worried about the lineup’s lack of power

    I remember Jack saying several times before the season that he wished he had more pop in the middle of the lineup. In other words, I don’t think this was ever an either/or. We went with pitching/defense because that was what was available to us.

  8. JMHawkins on August 12th, 2010 2:55 pm

    Not a lot on the 3B FA market next year. A couple of guys turning 34, there Wiggington who’s a slightly plus bat and slightly minus glove, or Brandon Inge who’s a slightly plus glove and slightly minus bat. I suppose either could be a stop-gap 3B until, until… who? Mangini? Truinfel? comes along.

    Or would we go for Izturis and sign the Angels 3B out from under them two years in a row?

  9. Westside guy on August 12th, 2010 3:00 pm

    Not a lot on the 3B FA market next year.

    Well, except for this one fair-to-middlin’ guy who was with us for several years and now is in Boston… :-D

  10. jephdood on August 12th, 2010 3:02 pm

    There’s no way Beltre would come back here. He hates Safeco. And probably losing.

  11. Westside guy on August 12th, 2010 3:03 pm

    I didn’t say he would come back – I was just pointing out that “not a lot on the 3B FA market next year” isn’t entirely accurate.

  12. JMHawkins on August 12th, 2010 3:09 pm

    “fair-to-middlin” is an accurate description of Bill Hall. He’s having a monster season (maybe literally, it is Boston after all) but I don’t think he’s significantly better than Inge or Wiggington. They’re all 1 to 2 WAR guys with the potential to turn in a 3 WAR season if you get lucky. Hall does have the advantage of being a couple of years younger and a Zduriencik guy. On the other hand, Inge had a cooler name, and Wiggington could help out remodelling the clubhouse since he used to have that TV show on ABC… oh, wait…

    (BTW, I swear I proofread my earlier post, but somehow managed to hit submit with ‘Truinfel’ instead of ‘Triunfel’. sigh.)

  13. JMHawkins on August 12th, 2010 3:12 pm

    Ha, the idea of Beltre coming back was so laughable, I assumed you meant Bill Hall.

  14. Kid_A on August 12th, 2010 3:14 pm

    Might be a stupid question, but what would be Figgins’ value as a SS? Does he project as a guy who could play the position relatively well?

    I only ask because it seems we have absolutely zero depth at SS at any level. What other options do we have?

  15. Sports on a Schtick on August 12th, 2010 3:14 pm

    The more I think about it the more I like this idea. M’s could use the payroll flexibility. Lopez goes and 2B is set with Ackley soon. Atlanta obviously needs to fill the void at third and Figgins fits in more in a NL setting. Plus I believe he’s from Georgia (or the South anyway).

    Kawakami is interesting though his salary is a bit high. Could wind up being a win-win-win situation, Michael Scott style.

  16. Westside guy on August 12th, 2010 3:22 pm

    Ha, the idea of Beltre coming back was so laughable, I assumed you meant Bill Hall.

    That’s funny – doubly so because I’d completely forgotten about Hall being with Boston!

  17. Mike Snow on August 12th, 2010 3:24 pm

    Figgins seems like the kind of player you could hope will age reasonably well, like a Kenny Lofton or a Brett Butler. I don’t have that much confidence that reallocating his money to future free agents will produce more bang for the buck.

  18. Mid80sRighty on August 12th, 2010 3:28 pm

    Two questions. One, I heard that it doesn’t matter when a player is placed on waivers to be traded after the deadline. A player could be placed on waivers in May, and if they clear, then can be traded after the deadline without having to go back on the list. Is this true? I heard it on ESPN, which is why I ask the question.

    Two, if a player is placed on waivers and they clear why would any team trade for them? They could’ve claimed them when they had the chance and not have had to give up any players. Would it be safe to assume that any trade after the deadline would involve the former team paying for some of the player’s contract? Basically salary dump trades?

  19. Mid80sRighty on August 12th, 2010 3:31 pm

    Figgins seems like the kind of player you could hope will age reasonably well, like a Kenny Lofton or a Brett Butler.

    I was thinking the same thing. Even had the exact same Kenny Lofton thought.

  20. nickwest1976 on August 12th, 2010 3:31 pm

    I agree with this post completely and hope Jack Z reads it! :-)

  21. SODOMOJO360 on August 12th, 2010 3:38 pm

    Signing Figgins made sense at the time – trading him now makes even more sense.

    Did we sign Figgins before or after we drafted Ackley? I think it was before but I’m not sure. If it was after and the decision to move Ackley to 2nd was made then the contract for Figgins was crazy. Look at any successful team and they will have a power hitting 3rd baseman that can drive in some runs. With us having Ichiro already and Ackley being a perfect #2 hitter then Figgins just doesn’t fit as he needs to hit in the top of the order. Ackley could hit 3rd but we would still be lacking some pop. 1B, DH and LF would be the only positions with potential pop. Like Dave said we need a right handed middle of the order bat. I noticed Poythress has moved to 3rd in High Dessert and he has crushed this year and maybe a 2012 call up isn’t out of the question. I’m not sure how his D is though.

  22. wsm on August 12th, 2010 3:40 pm

    There’s a very real chance Triunfel will be knocking on the door next summer. It would be nice if his path to the bigs wasn’t completely obstructed.

  23. SODOMOJO360 on August 12th, 2010 3:42 pm

    I only ask because it seems we have absolutely zero depth at SS at any level.

    Franklin has 19 HR’s and 19 steals as a 19 year old in A ball this year. Was our next pick in 1st round after Ackley. Probably a couple years away but don’t say we don’t have talent at ANY level.

  24. SODOMOJO360 on August 12th, 2010 3:43 pm

    There’s a very real chance Triunfel will be knocking on the door next summer. It would be nice if his path to the bigs wasn’t completely obstructed.

    I don’t think he’s had a very impressive year for all the hype that he’s received.

  25. Sports on a Schtick on August 12th, 2010 3:44 pm

    From everything I’ve read Poythress doesn’t defensively project as a future 3B. And Triunfel is probably 2 years away. If this trade does happen it’s probably Tui time.

  26. SODOMOJO360 on August 12th, 2010 3:47 pm

    From everything I’ve read Poythress doesn’t defensively project as a future 3B.

    Maybe a couple more years at the position will help.

  27. Kid_A on August 12th, 2010 4:04 pm

    Franklin has 19 HR’s and 19 steals as a 19 year old in A ball this year. Was our next pick in 1st round after Ackley. Probably a couple years away but don’t say we don’t have talent at ANY level.

    Totally forgot about Franklin – thanks for reminding me. Best part is those power numbers aren’t due to the friendly confines of High Desert.

  28. TomC on August 12th, 2010 4:04 pm

    The value of the trade is getting out from under the contract. In other words, we could spend the money better elsewhere.
    But I just don’t see that.

    I disagree. Figgins serves no reasonably foreseeable role for the Mariners. The marginal wins he brings by playing the next couple of years instead of a replacement like Tui is meaningless at this point. It simply doesn’t matter if the Mariners are 73-89 instead of 76-86 in 2011. Because Figgins will not be part of the next winning Mariner’s team, every dime of his salary is essentially wasted.

    If Figgy has value now, he also will in the offseason…where more suitors might get involved.

    Why? I do not think that is apparent. The Braves may be desperate now and overpay.

  29. Mike Snow on August 12th, 2010 4:06 pm

    Poythress is playing third for the same reason that Chris Shelton did last year at Tacoma. Same with guys like Mike Carp and Bryan LaHair in the outfield. It doesn’t mean that should be taken as a serious possibility.

  30. JMHawkins on August 12th, 2010 4:07 pm

    Figgins has made a grand total of 30 plays in 27 games at SS in his MLB career, the last one coming in 2006. I don’t think it’s his position.

  31. SODOMOJO360 on August 12th, 2010 4:12 pm

    Poythress is playing third for the same reason that Chris Shelton did last year at Tacoma. Same with guys like Mike Carp and Bryan LaHair in the outfield. It doesn’t mean that should be taken as a serious possibility.

    He’s only played there a few games and he is a first year minor league player. Don’t put him in the same category as those washed up career minor leaguers. He could still learn the position.

  32. diderot on August 12th, 2010 4:17 pm

    every dime of his salary is essentially wasted.

    But you see, that’s what I was saying. It’s only wasted if it could be better spent elsewhere.
    Who’s the free agent you would spend it on? (someone who would realistically want to come to Seattle)

  33. Dave on August 12th, 2010 4:39 pm

    Have you changed your tune on this at all or have you just gotten tired of watching this offense? (Or am I just misstating your position?)

    The latter. I’m not saying the team needs a power hitting third baseman – I’m saying that the team needs a good right-handed hitter to balance out the future line-ups, and because most of the rest of the spots are either filled with LH bats or bats that won’t be good hitters, 3B and DH are the only two spots to put that kind of player. You don’t really want a right-handed DH type whose entire value might get destroyed by Safeco, so it makes more sense to pursue a right-handed hitter at third.

    It doesn’t have to be a power hitter. I’m not saying the team needs to go trade for Mark Reynolds or Jose Bautista to fix the offense. I’m just saying that the line-up is weak against LHPs right now, and getting a RH bat at third base is the most logical way to help alleviate that problem.

    Not a lot on the 3B FA market next year.

    If you accept my premise that next year is probably not a contending year, than that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find the long term solution in free agency this winter. You can either make a trade for a guy who might be undervalued or sign a short-term stopgap while you look for a long term solution through the draft or through a later move.

    You don’t want to just assume that the team has to go spend 3/26 on whatever best free agent 3B they can get this winter. That doesn’t have to be the plan.

    Again, if we phrase it in the “would you sign Chone Figgins to a 3/26 deal this winter?” context, how many people would say yes? Keeping him because he’s already here isn’t a great reason to not make a move if you can.

  34. amnizu on August 12th, 2010 4:56 pm

    Two, if a player is placed on waivers and they clear why would any team trade for them? They could’ve claimed them when they had the chance and not have had to give up any players. Would it be safe to assume that any trade after the deadline would involve the former team paying for some of the player’s contract? Basically salary dump trades?

    I am *pretty* sure that the team who placed the player on waivers can choose to withdrawal that player from waivers if they are claimed and not lose the player. Typically these are the scenarios if a player is claimed off waivers:

    1. Salary dump, ala Alex Rios last season
    2. Withdrawal the waiver and choose to keep the player
    3. Work out a trade for said player with claiming team. IE. Acquiring team pays team to let waiver claim complete.

    Option 3 above would be why teams trade instead of just salary dumps as you asked.

    A second scenario is if a player clears waivers without being claimed by any of the other 29 MLB teams then they are eligible to be traded to any team. I *believe* there is another deadline at the end of August that has to do with the September 1st call ups and post season rosters but I am too fuzzy on that to comment here.

  35. amnizu on August 12th, 2010 5:05 pm

    Sorry to double post missed the edit window searching. Here is a link on MLBTraderumors that explains August trades.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/06/trading-in-august.html

  36. Edgar4Hall on August 12th, 2010 5:18 pm

    SO I’m just curious what the ETA is for Liddi and how he is doing this year. I mean, could he be a good 3B for the future? Ive seen quite a few high on him

  37. Backacre on August 12th, 2010 5:20 pm

    Trade him. He’s not a leader. He is the type of guy who excels on a contending team. (or when he is really pissed off like he has been since fight night.)
    Let’s get patiently excited about the next generation. We are 2+ years away from contending. Spend the money saved on Latin American prospects that don’t require a draft pick.
    The MLB free agent market will be poor for a while, we are still experiencing the PED era hangover.

  38. Slurve on August 12th, 2010 5:34 pm

    [Poythress] only played there a few games and he is a first year minor league player. Don’t put him in the same category as those washed up career minor leaguers. He could still learn the position.

    It’s not so much that he can’t learn to play the position it’s that he can’t. He’s a 1B by trade and moves like one at 3B, it’s his body that prevents him from becoming a 3B not lack of playing time at the position. Also you completely misinterpreted what the person said on why he’s playing third base. He “plays” 3B the same way Chris Shelton “played” 3B and the same way Carp/Nelson “plays” OF. It wasn’t a comparison on how Rich Poythress is, it’s a comparison on how Rich Poythress plays defense at third.

  39. badperson_ny on August 12th, 2010 5:41 pm

    I have kind of a chip on my shoulder re: Figgy. It seems to me that Wak was over such a barrel; on the one hand having to deal with the Griffey fraternity, and essentially getting canned for not being tough enough on the players.

    Were any players critical of Figgins base running flubs? Did any of the players support Wak?

    As for the Figgins trade, I’m 50-50. It feels a bit like giving up on him too soon, but he’s had 2/3 of season…who knows

  40. JMHawkins on August 12th, 2010 6:13 pm

    You don’t want to just assume that the team has to go spend 3/26 on whatever best free agent 3B they can get this winter. That doesn’t have to be the plan.

    Again, if we phrase it in the “would you sign Chone Figgins to a 3/26 deal this winter?” context…

    Ach, sorry Dave, I wasn’t disputing the move, just speculating on what the follow-up would be. You’re right, 3/26 for Figgins this winter is probably a “no”. Well, definitely a “no” from me at any rate.

    It seems like the M’s system has a better chance of producing a 3B in the next couple of years* than a SS, so I would much rather spend the money on a shortstop (call it the $$ for SS plan, hmmm JJ Hardy is available…).

    Of course, prospects are fungible to a certain extent and we could trade for one, but it’s kinda hard to pry loose a decent SS prospect.

    I’d be fine with offering a Inge/Wigginton/Hall type a 2/12 contract and letting them hold down 3B until someone comes along. They all have some flexibility and can be semi-super-subs if and when that happens.

    * – though looking at Liddi and Triunfel’s stats in AA, I’m not going to hold my breath. Liddi’s posting some decent numbers, but wiffing an awful lot. Good walk rate – eh, I guess a Three-True-Outcomes guy would be fine.

  41. firova2 on August 12th, 2010 6:20 pm

    Atlanta should be motivated for a deal. Jones had been openly contemplating retirement earlier this season, then caught fire before blowing out the knee. He may very well be done. Unless they want to pay Beltre’s price, Figgins could look like a good fit. And he is from northern Florida, I believe.

  42. djtizzo on August 12th, 2010 6:32 pm

    If the Braves were deperate enough to want to take Figgins salary and the M’s had to pay a portion of it…..why would Kawakami make sense? He’s old (35) and useless to us! Keeping Chone and and hoping he gets back to form enough to where the M’s could trade him next summer like you mention with Kawakami would really be the same thing wouldn’t it? Except for Figgins career numbers would make him even more valuable to a team than an innings eating, league average pitcher.

    Unless the return was in our favor, I’m not giving up on Figgins just yet. One bad year in a pretty decent career dosn’t justify giving him away for nothing! Maybe I’m reading into your post too deep and Kawakami was just a suggestion. I would think someone like Brandon Hicks or Diory Hernandez could be had for Figgins given Atlanta’s current situation. Both of wich make us better in the future than Kawakami.

  43. Todd Hunter on August 12th, 2010 6:54 pm

    If the Braves were deperate enough to want to take Figgins salary and the M’s had to pay a portion of it…..why would Kawakami make sense

    I don’t think that is what Dave said. If the M’s took Kawakami then the M’s would not pay Figgins’s salary, or much of it.

    Also, I do not think that Kawakami is useless. As Dave notes:

    At $6.7 million for next year, he’s a bit pricey for what he is, but not absurdly so. He could serve as an innings sponge for a team that could use one, helping fill a hole in the rotation that doesn’t have a natural answer for 2011.

    Kawakami is superior to at least two of the pitchers currently in the rotation (Pauley and French). I don’t know that he wouldn’t out perform Fister or RRS. Only Felix and Vargas stand out as better performers than Kawakami. (I will wait to make any judgements about how Pineda could perform over a full ML season).

    Finally, two things much such a move seem possible in theory. Kawakami seems to have lost the favor of Cox, who, of course, is in his last go round as the Braves skipper. The Braves might be slightly more inclined to make a “win now” move than at any other time.

    I would like to hear from a Braves fan on a proposed Figgins-Kawakami swap.

  44. CapSea on August 12th, 2010 6:56 pm

    Thanks for addressing this, Dave. I was curious on your stance, and I obviously agree 100%

  45. The Ancient Mariner on August 12th, 2010 6:58 pm

    Slurve, you misunderstood Mike Snow as well. Here’s what he actually said (emphasis added):

    Poythress is playing third for the same reason that Chris Shelton did last year at Tacoma. Same with guys like Mike Carp and Bryan LaHair in the outfield.

    In other words, Poythress isn’t playing third base because the organization thinks he has a future there; rather, he’s occasionally played third base because of the makeup of the Mavericks roster (though at least it isn’t as bad as the six-1B roster the Rainiers were running for a while last season). He’s been a first baseman playing third base (unimpressively, from the looks of it) because if you’re going to put three or four first basemen in the lineup, they have to go somewhere.

  46. Sports on a Schtick on August 12th, 2010 7:02 pm

    I would like to hear from a Braves fan on a proposed Figgins-Kawakami swap.

    My Braves fan buddy’s take:
    I don’t think it’s a no brainer for the Braves though. There isn’t a lot of depth in the rotation to not stop and think before trading Kawakami. And once Prado comes back, Infante can slide back to third and the infield is fine.

    But for this season, getting Chone to lead off would help in the long run, moving Prado’s high AVG down the lineup to drive runs in, just as long as the Lowe/Hudson/Hanson/Jurrgens/Minor rotation can hold up down the stretch, especially with the Phillies’ Halladay/Oswalt/Hamels top three. I’d approve of this move, unlike the Ankiel one.

  47. dw on August 12th, 2010 7:03 pm

    I wasn’t surprised Atlanta was calling about Figgins at all. You can’t look at his numbers without thinking that there’s a huge rebound coming.

    His collapse this year was a black swan statistically. When players like him underperform on this level, it’s either because they’re injured, coming back from an injury, or are getting too old to play. And he’s not injured, not coming back from an injury, and he’s only 32 and not a power hitter.

    Let’s be clear here, though — the M’s don’t have to deal Figgins. They can at the right price, but this isn’t a fire sale, and the last thing you want is fire sale prices on a guy that will go hit .300 in the NL over the next two years and really make Posanski look stupid.

    So, yeah, I’d be cautious. If it’s a Guillen-for-Santiago sort of trade, it’s stupid. I’d just leave the phone line open and see who is desperate enough to try and flip him for more than a handful of spare parts.

  48. djtizzo on August 12th, 2010 7:12 pm

    So, you guys are suggesting that the M’s pay Kawakami ($6.7 mil) next year to be a 4th or 5th starter and we create $6.7 salary for 2012? That frees up what, roughly $1.5 mil this winter to find a replacement for Figgins? Still not sold on the idea!

    I’m not oposed to trading Figgy (though I’ve voiced that I still really like him) as long as we get future talent back. I’m not asking for Martin Prado in return, just a young replacement guy that could be usefull to us. I’m not convinced that Kawakami is worth anything to the M’s franchise. Totaly agree with you though about RRS, couldn’t possibly be worse than that!

  49. Dave on August 12th, 2010 7:25 pm

    So, you guys are suggesting that the M’s pay Kawakami ($6.7 mil) next year to be a 4th or 5th starter and we create $6.7 salary for 2012?

    This math should be pretty easy, right?

    2011: Figgins ($9M) for Kawakami ($6.7M) saves you $2.3M

    2012: Figgins ($9M) for nothing saves you $9M

    2013: Figgins ($8M) for nothing saves you $8M

    2014: Figgins (vesting option) for nothing saves you the percent odds of the option vesting * $9M

    That’s a guaranteed $19.3 million in savings for 2011-2013, plus the value of not having to worry about the vesting option for 2014. Total value of making the swap is a savings of something like $21 or $22 million.

    Yes, you have to replace Figgins, but if you don’t make the deal, then you have to fill the rotation hole somehow. In addition to the raw $2.3 million you’re saving for next year in the swap, you’d also save $3 to $4 million that would have to otherwise be allocated to some kind of innings eater starting pitcher – no way do the M’s go into the year with both Pineda and a guy like French/Pauley/RRS in the rotation. They’d be scared out of their minds about burning up the bullpen with a bunch of five inning starts.

    Figgins has no trade value. The question is whether or not the Mariners should give him away. I think the answer is yes. You can think the answer is no, but trading him for an asset is not happening.

  50. GarForever on August 12th, 2010 7:36 pm

    I was skeptical of the Figgins signing at the time, but put aside my misgivings and hoped for the best. It hasn’t worked out, but as I have suggested in other threads, I think the Lopez-Figgins switch was at least partially responsible. If I were a betting man, at the beginning of the season I would have thought the Lopez end of the swap would have been the more disastrous, but the idea that Figgins at 2B might be problematic should not have been surprise (-7.9 UZR/150 career at the position).

    At this point, I agree with Dave and have a hard time seeing around the problem he posits. Figgins’ greatest value to the M’s is at 3B (assuming they don’t pick up Lopez’s option: if they do, I’m officially done with this team; it would be easier to root for the ChiSox where I live in any event); this makes room for Ackley at second and represents a defensive upgrade over Mangini, whom I assume would be the presumptive heir. However, you’re then saddled with a punchless 3B on a team that can ill afford it.

    If the Braves want to make the deal, I think you have to pull the trigger.

  51. furlong on August 12th, 2010 7:36 pm

    This would be a stroke of good fortune to get rid of Figgy I can’t believe it will happen.

  52. djtizzo on August 12th, 2010 7:43 pm

    You’re right, he has no trade value NOW, but if the M’s don’t recieve somthing of value back then there is no point to this trade. The Braves have the players to play 3B, so they are probably not in desperation mode just yet. Hinske is capable of playing 3B just as well. Atlanta would be trading for Figgins career numbers and not his current numbers. Also, if the M’s picked up some of the tab his trade value would increase.

  53. nathaniel dawson on August 12th, 2010 7:47 pm

    How does Kawakami pick up value coming to Safeco Field? He’s the same pitcher, whether he’s pitching in Safeco or anywhere else.

  54. Dave on August 12th, 2010 8:06 pm

    Same way Jarrod Washburn picked up value when the M’s acquired Gutierrez and Chavez to play behind him. If a guy can run a 3.xx ERA, teams won’t stop to wonder how he’s doing it.

  55. Paul B on August 12th, 2010 8:07 pm

    As a fan, though, getting rid of Figgy means I’d have to spend another year watching Lopez play.

  56. Dave on August 12th, 2010 8:10 pm

    No it doesn’t. The M’s will buy out Lopez’s option no matter what.

  57. GoldenGutz on August 12th, 2010 8:27 pm

    I think if we have the ability to select Anthony Rendon, then we trade Figgins in winter. But if we can get something that can help us long term, I say we trade him now.

  58. akampfer on August 12th, 2010 8:51 pm

    This makes no sense at this point. Figgins has been hitting the ball well and seems to be finding his game. I never did think Ichiro and Figgins at the top of the order made a lot of sense. Considering your best hitter is Ichiro, it would make more sense to have Figgins leadoff and Ichiro bat cleanup. If you can get a couple of walks, Ichiro can bat them in. There have been so many times Ichiro has gotten a hit and hasn’t been able to score because he’s in the leadoff position. I know several people are going to disagree with me, you place your best hitter cleanup and right now, that’s Ichiro.

  59. nathaniel dawson on August 12th, 2010 8:52 pm

    Same way Jarrod Washburn picked up value when the M’s acquired Gutierrez and Chavez to play behind him. If a guy can run a 3.xx ERA, teams won’t stop to wonder how he’s doing it.

    But that would be true of any pitcher pitching for Seattle. There’s no reason to think Kawakami would benefit more than others.

  60. Dave on August 12th, 2010 8:57 pm

    A high walk, high strikeout guy will get significantly less of a bounce from his park/defense than a pitch to contact strike-thrower. Felix isn’t helped as much by the context of the team as Vargas is, for instance.

    But that’s all besides the point. The point was just that it’s not hard to see Kawakami coming to Safeco, putting up some decent numbers, and being easy to move next summer. The team could get a half season of a not-too-expensive innings eater and then a prospect when they trade him at the deadline. Not a bad potential return for a guy that is basically a salary dump.

  61. Browl on August 12th, 2010 9:07 pm

    Okay I’m new at this but here goes.

    If we assume the Ms will not contend next year then Figgins value in 2011 is 0. Figgins is owed $35M from 2011 through 2014. If the value of a win is $4M then Figgins would have to average 2.92 wins per season from 2012 through 2014 in order to live up to his contract. I think he could reasonably pull that off. Maybe the Ms should hang on to him.

    Like I said I am sot of new to this type of analysis so let me know if I missed anything.

  62. Paul L on August 12th, 2010 10:44 pm

    Using the same logic, is it valid to assume that a 38yr old Ichiro will still be the core of the offense in ’12?

  63. nickwest1976 on August 12th, 2010 10:46 pm

    Dave, is there any chance that Beltre would come back here? He would certainly fill the RH 3B you were talking about and be a great defensive player.

    I doubt he would come back but I want to dream.

  64. hansk on August 12th, 2010 11:03 pm

    too bad they don’t still have Yunel Escobar. I would have done a Figgins-Escobar swap. actually, that would have been amazing, and i bet they would have done it too, since they hated him.

    he’s younger (28), walks as much as he strikes out, plays above average defense (at SS, no less, which is what the M’s need).

  65. StatBoy on August 13th, 2010 1:00 am

    The MLB free agent market will be poor for a while, we are still experiencing the PED era hangover.

    Backacre,

    I have to call you out on this buddy, this is a ridiculous statement.

  66. bookbook on August 13th, 2010 1:24 am

    If Figgins is worth his contract or close to it, wouldn’t the Phillies claim him first to deprive the Braves of his services? Their worst case is they get him for nothing beyond salary liability and can’t themselves unload him until the offseason.

    Best case for Philly, they block the Braves from getting him and he stays in Seattle.

  67. PBS on August 13th, 2010 2:21 am

    It seems like the M’s would be selling when his stock is at a near all-time low, which probably makes it a bad idea despite the salary relief.

    I also disagree with the point about Figgins blocking people. It’s way too early to punt 2011 to go for 2012. Make the young kids beat him out of a job. I think the Mariners need all the talent they can get, and this trade would not improve the ballclub.

  68. Todd Hunter on August 13th, 2010 5:01 am

    If Figgins is worth his contract or close to it, wouldn’t the Phillies claim him first to deprive the Braves of his services?

    If the Phillies claim him, they better hope that the M’s simply don’t say “here you go.” That is a huge financial risk for the Phillies to make considering that they have multi-million dollar commitments at every infield position beyond this year. The M’s might just let Philly have him.

  69. mrb on August 13th, 2010 5:56 am

    A contract like Figgins is a good example of why MLB needs a salary cap AND a salary floor. If the M’s don’t want to bring in a ‘proven MLB player’ to block a prospect, they’ll have to take back a prospect themselves, which only further complicates matters. In a salary cap world, they could make the trade simply for the cap relief, and that’d be a good thing.

  70. Paul B on August 13th, 2010 6:45 am

    But for practical reasons, there are salary caps. Each team has one, although they are all different.

  71. ajrosberg on August 13th, 2010 7:20 am

    Mangini may come out of fall league better than he has been defensively. One could only hope that would happen. Otherwise, Jeff Dominguez or Leury Bonilla would be better than shoving Lopez or Figgins there.

  72. SDRE on August 13th, 2010 7:22 am

    Figgins, just like Beltre before him and Franklin additionally, is being miscast in the lineup. He’s a spark-plug lead-off hitter.

    Instead of trading, an idea is moving him to leadoff and 3B. Ackley hitting 2nd/2b, Ichiro 3rd.

    Victor Martinez is a nice DH/1B/C switch-hitting FA option to plug in 4th behind Ichiro.

  73. joealb1 on August 13th, 2010 8:10 am

    The Ancient Mariner said, “Way to be judgmental, joealb1 — and way to assume that you know more than you do”.

    Judgmental, yes. I admit I do not know Chone and he may not be a jerk. I do know that I feel his actions in the dugout and his statements in the media show a lack of respect for his boss. I feel that you don’t have to like your employer and its chain of command but you should at least show it some respect. Sorry for the judgmental use of “jerk”. That was uncalled for. I still don’t want Chone on this team anymore and if “Z” can get back value so much the better.

  74. heychuck01 on August 13th, 2010 8:23 am

    Humm… If Chone Figgins is put on waivers, then Philadelphia claims him.

    Well, it seems logical anyway. Philadelphia is probably willing to take the risk if it really hurts Atlanta.

    I doubt the Mariners would just let him go. The Mariners pull him back and we are back to life as usual.

  75. Todd Hunter on August 13th, 2010 9:25 am

    Philadelphia is probably willing to take the risk if it really hurts Atlanta.

    But it also hurts the Phillies. That is money that can’t use to try to resign Werth or add starting pitching. Even though they currenlty have some banged up infielders, they have quite a lot invested in Polanco, Rollins, and Utley. They aren’t trading Rollins and Utley, and it would be hard for them to move Polanco in the winter unless they ate a lot of his salary. If the Phillies wanted Figgins that would be one thing, but it is a big risk to take just to try to block a move.

  76. Wolfman on August 13th, 2010 9:25 am

    Figgins, just like Beltre before him and Franklin additionally, is being miscast in the lineup. He’s a spark-plug lead-off hitter.

    Instead of trading, an idea is moving him to leadoff and 3B. Ackley hitting 2nd/2b, Ichiro 3rd.

    Victor Martinez is a nice DH/1B/C switch-hitting FA option to plug in 4th behind Ichiro.

    Good post. Doesn’t Ichiro have a sky-high career average with guys in scoring position? I’ve never understood why somebody didn’t at least try this. Is Ichiro opposed to it?

  77. Dave on August 13th, 2010 9:35 am

    It is amazing to me how the “hit Ichiro third” crowd has convinced themselves that this is a great idea without looking at any evidence or using any logic.

    It’s not going to help anything. Stop it.

  78. Mike Snow on August 13th, 2010 9:56 am

    I think some of them are looking at evidence – batting practice. I’m not saying it’s good evidence on which to base that decision, but it is evidence in some fashion. I was appalled to see a normally decent writer like Morosi jump on that bandwagon.

  79. georgmi on August 13th, 2010 10:04 am

    Philadelphia ended last season with a better record than Atlanta. That means when a player goes on waivers, Atlanta gets their turn to select him before Philly ever gets a sniff, right?

  80. Carson on August 13th, 2010 10:08 am

    Good post. Doesn’t Ichiro have a sky-high career average with guys in scoring position? I’ve never understood why somebody didn’t at least try this. Is Ichiro opposed to it?

    Hehehehehe.

  81. Mike Snow on August 13th, 2010 10:40 am

    Philadelphia ended last season with a better record than Atlanta. That means when a player goes on waivers, Atlanta gets their turn to select him before Philly ever gets a sniff, right?

    I believe the claim order is based on the standings at the time the player goes on waivers, not last year’s finish.

  82. Utis on August 13th, 2010 10:46 am

    The Mariners can’t afford to appear to punt 2011 or any season. Sacrificing wins for development is not a good strategy for maintaining casual fan interest and attendance. The Mariners will enter 2011 behind the other three teams in their division. The young players already slated to be on the team will have a large variance in their results. Figgins, a likely 3 WAR player in 2011, should be replaced, if he needs to be replaced, by a player that is even more likely to deliver those wins. That way if some of the young players surprise to the upside, the team might improve its standing in the division and be more competitive. This type of thinking appears to be what motivated reacquiring Branyan this year.

  83. nepacific on August 13th, 2010 10:56 am

    I was deeply unimpressed with Figgins’ attitude to his manager, and the experiment of having him bat second seems to be a bust — not just that he finds it more difficult, but that it doesn’t actually produce runs. He is far more valuable to a team that can bat him first. It appears that Ichiro refuses to bat third. So I would reluctantly agree with Dave (and now Geoff Baker) that it’s time to move him. Although I do wonder what things would have been like if they had left him at third and got Ichiro to give up leadoff….

    Just to get it straight, according to Wikipedia, he was born in southwest Georgia, and played high school ball outside Tampa. His family lives in Plant City FL, between Tampa and Lakeland. From that point of view, Atlanta seems a good fit.

  84. SDRE on August 13th, 2010 11:05 am

    With Figgins and Ackley both being able to walk and run, Ichiro’s numerous base hits present an opportunity for more runs. I don’t believe it’s a wide gap run difference as other might perceive but it’s logically that having two high OBP guys like Figgins and Ackley in front of Ichiro present more run opportunities than the other way.
    While I don’t crunch the numbers, I use as evidence Ichiro leading Japan to the first WBC batting 3rd and Figgins helping the Angels win batting lead-off.
    I think to look to trade Figgins in the first year after signing him as a FA instead of experimenting with the lineup is the wrong approach and sends a concerning message to future free agents Seattle might have interest in.

  85. just a fan on August 13th, 2010 11:15 am

    The Mariners can’t afford to appear to punt 2011 or any season. Sacrificing wins for development is not a good strategy for maintaining casual fan interest and attendance.

    Yeah, and if they never sacrifice wins, they end up like they are now: several years away from legitimate contention. Taking this “let’s not punt a year” attitude after the 99-loss 2004 season — and every subsequent season — is still reverberating, and has slowly bled casual fan interest.

    If they “punt” 2011, and because of that they are better in 2012 and beyond, those fans will come back when there are important baseball games in September at Safeco for the first time since 2003.

  86. Badbadger on August 13th, 2010 11:18 am

    I don’t think we need to be in any hurry to dump Figgins. If he continues to revert to mean he’ll be moveable in the off season or next year at the trading deadline. Our offense is already horrific, I’d hate to see Figgins replaced by Chris Woodward now.

  87. Utis on August 13th, 2010 11:37 am

    Yeah, and if they never sacrifice wins, they end up like they are now: several years away from legitimate contention.

    Sacrificing wins for development is no guarantee of eventual success (e.g. Cleveland Indians). The key to consistent improvement is to have a reasonable mix of risky and non risky players and slowly move the mix towards more stable results.

    The reason they are far away from contending now is that the talent level of the team was diminished through several ill advised trades. We are only now starting to recover from that.

  88. just a fan on August 13th, 2010 12:02 pm

    The reason they are far away from contending now is that the talent level of the team was diminished through several ill advised trades.

    Trades they shouldn’t have made because they weren’t contending. As for free agency, Sexson’s contract wasn’t so bad his first two years — when they had no chance of contention. Then when they were finally somewhat competitive in 2007, he was a huge waste of money, roster space, everything. That’s the point with Figgins — by the time they’re competitive, he’ll be two years older and the risk he won’t be worth $8 million is that much greater.

    Sure, they may get great production from their young players in 2011 and fulfill their longshot hopes, and maybe dealing Figgins now costs them the pennant by a game or two. But those casual fans you’re afraid of losing will watch the pennant race!

    If you chase the longshot every season, you’re bald and end up getting fired in June 2008.

  89. FelixFanChris420 on August 13th, 2010 12:38 pm

    If you chase the longshot every season, you’re bald and end up getting fired in June 2008

    +1 and lolz

  90. Adam S on August 13th, 2010 12:53 pm

    “would you sign Chone Figgins to a 3/26 deal this winter?” context, how many people would say yes? Keeping him because he’s already here isn’t a great reason to not make a move if you can.
    A lot of contracts are about “what have you done for me lately” and a failure of long-term memory. It’s hard to look at Figgins replacement-level first half and think here’s a guy I want to pay $9 long term or to believe others would offer him that. But he’s one year removed from a 6-win season. I think his first half is a fluke and he’s 2-3 win player and having one of those for $9M isn’t a bad thing. Heck, he’ll probably be a 1.5 WAR player this year despite the first half.

    So I expect I could get Figgins for less than that and a shorter deal BUT I don’t see the contract as an albatross.

    Figgins has no trade value. The question is whether or not the Mariners should give him away. I think the answer is yes.
    If this is true, I think the Mariners should keep him and see what he does over the next 11 months and re-assess. I think the contract will turn out to be a bargain.

    Trading only makes sense if someone else values him more than the Mariners and I suspect that’s not true. Doing a Bradley-Silva deal seems likely to have similar results (though I liked the Bradley-Silva deal at the time).

  91. Utis on August 13th, 2010 1:01 pm

    But those casual fans you’re afraid of losing will watch the pennant race!

    Maybe, maybe not. It is really difficult to get attendance back if your team isn’t competitive year after year. Tampa Bay is still having difficulty with attendance despite success on the field. Cleveland’s attendance has fallen off the cliff. Yes, economic conditions have a lot to do with that but not entirely.

    Winning as much as possible is necessary to maintain attendance (revenue) which is one of the resources needed to compete. I have been a season ticket holder since 1993 and this is the first year I have seriously considered not renewing. Another season of futility, no matter how promising the future, doesn’t sound like much fun.

    I am not saying that Figgins should not be replaced. I am saying that if he is replaced, he should be replaced by a player that is more likely to exceed his performance (a high upside, low risk prospect or veteran not a high upside high risk type or low upside low risk type).

  92. Badbadger on August 13th, 2010 1:03 pm

    I tend to agree with AdamS. If he finishes strong and does better next year, perhaps he has trade value at the deadline. If we’re letting the kids play next year then do we really need to free up his salary before then?

    If they have some 2011-ready prospect for 3rd base in mind then fine, but otherwise I don’t see the need for rushing.

  93. tres_arboles on August 13th, 2010 1:36 pm

    Just to get it straight, according to Wikipedia, he was born in southwest Georgia, and played high school ball outside Tampa. His family lives in Plant City FL, between Tampa and Lakeland. From that point of view, Atlanta seems a good fit.

    Not to criticize the commenter or the rest of his comment, but I just don’t get why any of this stuff matters. Seattle seems to be the only place I’ve ever lived where “fit” between an athlete and his club has to include some geographic connection between them as well.

    I mean, John Smoltz is from Michigan. Does anyone really believe he was a bad “fit” during his Braves career because he wasn’t a Southerner?

    Strikes me there’s a fit for Figgy in Atlanta if they need him between the white lines and are willing to exchange something for him that makes sense in view of the M’s plans/needs. And as long as that exchange is unlikely to include an “asset” it might as well be a pitcher that with a chance of showing value at next year’s trade deadline as suggested in the comments above.

  94. matthew on August 13th, 2010 3:02 pm

    No for three reasons. Wak is gone and soon Lopez will be too and Figgins can slide back over to his natural position. Lastly, his salary isn’t burdensome.

    I am amazed at how people — including some in the local media — are so quick to give up on Chone.

    He is going to turn it around here in Seattle and live up to why we were all excited when Z signed him.

  95. PBS on August 13th, 2010 5:51 pm

    Maybe a cheaper solution would be just to move the fences in LF. If it is really *this* hard to build a club that can be successful here, then tweak the park to make it more favorable to RH hitters.

  96. Wolfman on August 13th, 2010 7:22 pm

    Carson, that was a funny post! Loved the link. LOL!

    Dave, the M’s are on pace to lose, what, 100+ games? I would think they would be willing to try almost anything to see if it would help.

  97. samregens on August 13th, 2010 10:13 pm

    It’s pretty funny and pathetic how the Ichiro bashers lose more and more credibility as they try to advocate and insinuate into any discussion, their agenda for moving Ichiro out of leadoff where he has been performing as the best leadoff man of the decade.

    Anything to try to mess up his performance I guess. What a bunch of losers.

  98. djw on August 14th, 2010 9:19 am

    and the experiment of having him bat second seems to be a bust — not just that he finds it more difficult, but that it doesn’t actually produce runs. He is far more valuable to a team that can bat him first.

    Just to be clear: there absolutely no evidence whatsoever that batting order is significant, either as a causal factor behind Figgins’ slump, or as a reason we’ve been unable to score runs. Baseball fans have often placed a wildly inappropriate amount of significance on batting order, but a group of Mariners fans have taken this tendency to dizzying new heights.

  99. auldguy on August 14th, 2010 9:32 am

    It is pointless to speculate about how much the M’s could save financially by moving Figgins. Absolutely no other MLB team would touch him unless the Mariners chipped in most of the $$$ owed him over the life of his existing contract.

  100. Dave on August 14th, 2010 12:27 pm

    That’s simply not true.

  101. thr33niL on August 14th, 2010 3:13 pm

    Just not on board with dumping Figgins at his lowest possible value. Especially when he most likely will return to being a 3 WAR player in 2011. His contract may not be ideal but he is blocking no one of consequence in the next 2 years and we do have to at least try an field a competitor in 2011. What sort of message is that to ticket holders when half your starting roster is rookies and 2nd year guys? Towel—>thrown.

    Not only would this proposal be dumping Figgins, we would be taking back an overpaid, back of the rotation starter that adheres to the 5-and-dive pitching philosophy fairly strictly. A league average starter in the NL he might be but the move to the AL would likely dip him below that. And while our OF defense is strong, our INF defense would be a big question if you subtract Figgins from 3B and insert Ackley at 2B. Doubt Kawakami gets any help from us defensively.

    I usually agree with these types of player suggestion posts but not so much with this one. Mostly because of the timing.

  102. The Ancient Mariner on August 14th, 2010 8:39 pm

    FWIW, someone’s bounced this one out at Talking Chop, and started a bit of discussion — take a look.

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