Mariners hit home run with Figgins
Club introduces newest player at Tuesday news conference
When talking about all the things Chone Figgins, the Mariners' newest acquisition, has to offer, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik referenced perhaps the only thing Figgins really doesn't provide.
"I think we hit a home run here," Zduriencik said.
It's true, the Mariners didn't acquire the 31-year-old Figgins, whose position is yet to be determined, for his power. They're perfectly fine with that, given all the other things that he can do for a team.
On Tuesday, the Mariners held a news conference at SAFECO Field to introduce Figgins, who last week agreed to a four-year contract worth $36 million with a vesting option for 2014.
Figgins will wear jersey No. 9 in Seattle.
Figgins figures to slide in nicely behind Ichiro Suzuki in the lineup. He was a catalyst with the Angels, with whom he spent the past the past eight seasons.
"He's a great young man, a very respectful person," Zduriencik said. "He wants to win, he wants to compete. When you bring players of character, there's an element that rubs off. I think we're going to see that with this guy."
Last season, Figgins hit .291 with a career-high 114 runs scored and 30 doubles. He drove in 54 runs, led the American League in walks with 101, stole 42 bases and compiled a career-best on-base percentage of .395 while hitting .333 with runners in scoring position.
Figgins also ranked third in baseball for third basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating, which is considered a key defensive statistic.
"He is an absolute pain to defend," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said last week. "Once he's on base, he knows what he's doing. He's a very intelligent player, so there are a lot of options."
Chances are Figgins could end up at third base in Seattle, especially after the departure of free agent Adrian Beltre. But Zduriencik, still in the process of building his team for 2010 -- another piece, left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee, could be added Wednesday -- wouldn't commit to sticking Figgins at third base just yet.
"We've talked about this. We know Chone will be in our infield until this period [the offseason] is over," Zduriencik said. "Before we go to Spring Training, he'll know where it will be."
Figgins proved to be one of the first free agents to sign this winter. He said it didn't take much arm-twisting to get him to sign with the Mariners, especially since he has a history with most of the coaching staff.
Figgins said the Mariners were a comfortable fit, citing manager Don Wakamatsu, bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, third-base coach Mike Brumley and first-base coach Lee Tinsley were all instrumental mentors during Figgins' development in the Angels' farm system.
"It wasn't hard with the coaching staff we have," Figgins said. "It's always special to be wanted by an organization that has the will to bring the players to win."
Figgins pointed to the acquisition of shortstop Jack Wilson and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez last season as signs the Mariners were intent on improving their team. That Seattle won 21 more games in 2009 than '08 only convinced Figgins more that the Mariners were set to make a move in the AL West on the Angels, Figgins' former team.
"They do have the will to win, I saw that last year," Figgins said. "Jack made some big moves. I want to go where I can fit in. I know the coaching staff over here, I've talked to the players. I know the direction they're heading."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.