Chone Figgins found himself on the outside looking in for the 2013 baseball season, cut by the Miami Marlins in spring training and finding no other suitors for his services. Early in 2014, the switch-hitting utility man held an open workout attended by big-league scouts to demonstrate that he still had the skills to play in the majors.
Within one week, the Los Angeles Dodgers - having a need for utility infielders with the departures of Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker - signed Desmond DeChone Figgins to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Figgins starts frequently in Spring Training games, manning spots all over the field in an attempt to see how his glove still plays at the various positions. More importantly he's also among the team leaders in spring plate appearances, as the coaching staff tries to determine what life remains in his bat. Figgins enters 2014 already having major-league experience at every position except first base, catcher and pitcher, with his least amount of experience being 150 2/3 innings logged at shortstop, the last of those occurring in 2006.
That said, the only position at which Figgins has a career UZR rating above zero (meaning an above-average fielder for that position) is third base, according to Fangraphs. (Caveat: Some position sample sizes too small to be meaningful.)
The 36-year old also brings baserunning skills to the table as a base-stealer with a 74% career success rate and 337 swipes to his credit. There may be some slowing due to age, but his speed on the basepaths is a net positive.
And as a handler of the bat, in 2010 he led the American League in sacrifice bunts with 171.
Don Mattingly still has interest in Figgins. "I just want to see him play. I've always liked him. It gives us a guy who can play everywhere and knows how to play," the Dodger manager said. "He's still running good, he's still moving good. He hasn't played in a year, but his at-bats have been pretty good."
Figgins will still have a lot to prove though, as batting .185/.249/.253/.502 - a mere 45 OPS+ - over his last two years with the Seattle Mariners and then sitting out a full season is not a resume of recent activity that flutters the hearts of most general managers.
While Southern Californians likely remember Figgins making his major-league debut for the Angels of Anaheim, less probably remember that he was selected in the 4th round of the 1997 draft out of a Florida high school by the Colorado Rockies, and was later traded to California for the unforgettable Kimera Bartee.
Figgins became the sixth Angel to hit for the cycle on September 16, 2006, in a road game versus the Texas Rangers.
By collecting six hits on June 18, 2007, against the Houston Astros, Figgins tied the American League record for most hits in a nine-inning game, which included the very rare walk-off triple. Watching speedy Reggie Willits and the fast Figgins circle the bases was probably a lot of fun to watch indeed.
Figgins signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers and is in major-league training camp as a non-roster invitee. No details available on what he might earn if he makes the 25-man roster.
|2013||35||Did not play|
|2014 projections - Age 36 season|
I'll hazard a guess that Figgins makes the initial Dodger major-league roster, but is waived later in April after he hits .083/.125/.083 with one caught stealing, but plays three positions in that time.2 What do you think?
1. Write your own Mattingly loves to bunt joke here.↩
2. And spawns 528 game thread comments stating "Gettin' Figgy wit It"↩