A’s Pursuing Figgins
An interesting rumor has popped up this morning, as Joe Stiglich of the Contra Costa Times is reporting that the A’s are trying to swap Kevin Kouzmanoff for Chone Figgins. Ken Rosenthal has since confirmed the report, and he’s the most reliable guy in the business on this front. So, there’s almost certainly something to this.
If the M’s have a chance to unload Figgins’ contract, they have to do it. I wrote about why they should trade Figgins back in August. Circumstances have changed since they signed him last winter, and at this point, he’s unlikely to still be a positive asset by the time the Mariners are ready to challenge for the AL West title again. Unless the A’s are asking the M’s to pick up significant amounts of money, the answer to any deal where the M’s get to dump the rest of his contract should be yes.
Beyond just dumping Figgins, though, Kouzmanoff actually would be a decently valuable piece to get back in return. By UZR, he’s an above average defender at third, rating out at +6.1 runs per 150 games over his career. He’s not Adrian Beltre, but he can play a pretty solid third base. Offensively, he’s actually kind of similar to Jose Lopez (commence cringing… now) in that he doesn’t walk much, has slightly above average power, and has played his entire career in home parks that have been disastrous for him. Kouzmanoff’s overall numbers don’t look great, but his home/road splits are pretty telling: .242/.288/.386 at home, .273/.315/.461 on the road. While he won’t get much of a boost while playing in Safeco, we at least don’t have to adjust his numbers down, as we do with most right-handed bats. We already know about how well he’ll hit in ridiculous pitcher’s parks, since he’s done it his whole career.
It’s not the kind of package the M’s should be signing up for long term, but as a one year stop gap while they figure out what they have in Ackley, Pineda, and Smoak, he can keep the position from being a black hole. Odds are he won’t be worth his arbitration raise next winter (he’s making $4.75 million in 2011), but the team would be able to non-tender him and walk away at that point.
Kouzmanoff for Figgins? Yes, please.
Update: Buster Olney adds on Twitter that this could be a three team deal involving the Blue Jays. Just speculating, but I’d guess that Kouzmanoff would end up in Toronto (which would allow them to keep Jose Bautista in the outfield), with the M’s getting something from the Blue Jays in return. The Jays do have pitching depth, so perhaps the Mariners could end up with another arm for the back-end of the rotation. This would leave a hole at third base, but they could sign a guy like Willy Aybar to share time with Matt Mangini as a low-cost option that would allow them to give another young kid a look. We’ll have to see what plays out.