With the latest rumor that Chone Figgins is close to signing a 4/$36M deal with the Mariners, I’m left wondering how in the world the Twins aren’t able to top that deal.
Figgins is the top infielder on the free agent market, and very well should have had his pick of suitors this winter — and given his value over the past few years and his stellar glove and his high OBP, the offers should have been pretty big.
I don’t know if the Twins offered him a contract, or talked to his agents, or even showed any interest in upgrading from a Tolbert/Harris platoon at 3B. I really, really hope so, but the Twins are being as secretive as ever* and we simply have no idea.
* That works great if you’re Apple or Google or something, and are constantly doing awesome stuff and springing it on people when they had no idea it was coming, and you keep on doing it over and over again. But when the secrets end up being “we signed Nick Punto to a multi-year deal” or a shit sandwich like “we traded our top pitcher and our starting shortstop for the worst player in the league,” or “we think the team that wasn’t quite good enough last year is good enough next year,” well, it doesn’t work quite as well.
But it’s at least possible that the Twins engaged Figgins; I’d like to hope that they offered him more than 4/$36M — he’s been worth more than $9M in every season he’s been a starter except for 2006, and his skillset figures to degrade slowly over time. I’d say it’s a good bet that he’ll be worth more than $36M over the course of the next four years. Like I said … I hope the Twins offered more than that.
But maybe it wasn’t good enough. People always talk about how “money isn’t always the biggest thing” for some players; that there are other things they take into account, and that the biggest offer doesn’t always get the player. At the same time, though, doesn’t it seem like players always sign for the largest dollar amount? Last winter, Teixeira was considering the Nationals and (moreso) the Orioles because he’s from the area, and they offered him a staggeringly large deal. The Red Sox offered a contract in the same ballpark, and he’d love to play for the Red Sox because he loves their history and their city and he wants to win. And then the Yankees came in, just about Boston’s offer, and it turns out that Teixeira’s dream has always been to wear pinstripes, so in the end he got exactly what he wanted … but he also got the biggest contract that anyone offered him. Is it all bullshit? Maybe. I don’t know.
Today, though, we learn that sometimes players do turn down the biggest offer to go somewhere they like more. In this case, the A’s offered the largest contract to Marco Scutaro, but he opted for the Red Sox instead because he “preferred the chance to win a World Series with the Red Sox.”* So sometimes, money isn’t everything.
* If someone had said that six years ago, what would you have said?
Realistically, of course, Figgins can’t think he has a better shot at a title with the Mariners than he would with the Twins. The Twins are very close to being built to win now, and as a playing situation, slotting into the 2 spot in the order between Span and Mauer can hardly be beat.
Maybe those things aren’t what’s important to Figgins. Maybe he wants to stay on the west coast rather than coming to the midwest. Maybe he doesn’t like the prospect of being the 6th or 7th best player on the team and would rather be the 1st or 2nd best — I think it’s believable that a guy would rather be the biggest fish. Maybe his postseason struggles, and the attention they’ve gotten, have effected him and he’d rather be in a situation where they don’t come up.
At the end of the day, we don’t know. It’s possible that Figgins would have loved to play for the Twins, but they just didn’t call, or they wouldn’t offer enough money, or years. Maybe the Twins do actually believe in Danny Valencia (despite some evidence to the contrary), and don’t want to block him with an expensive signing.
But at the same time, I’m torn. Is it promising that players might actually be considering more than money when it comes to signing long term contracts — thus lending hope to the idea of a Mauer extension? Is it a bad sign that free agents might choose to avoid the Twins, for intangible reasons? Is it a bad sign that the Twins won’t offer enough money to get key free agents, possibly sending a message to Mauer that they’re not dedicated to building a great team around him? Is it a good sign that perhaps they’re saving their money for Mauer’s contract, and don’t want to lock up money they may not have before they know about how much he’ll cost?
The only thing I’m sure about is that it’s a bad sign that I’m worrying so much.
What do you think?4 comments