Should the Mariners trade Chone Figgins? Should the Braves be interested in him?

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Rarely do Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times and Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner agree on something, but amid speculation that the Braves are interested in Chone Figgins as a possible replacement for Chipper Jones they both think the Mariners would be smart to deal him.
Baker argues that Figgins is redundant with Ichiro Suzuki around, while Cameron argues that Figgins isn’t a good fit because the Mariners aren’t as close to being consistent contenders as they believed when signing him this offseason.
Figgins has three years and $27 million left on his contract, so he’ll definitely clear waivers (if he hasn’t already) and can be traded anywhere. Clearly how much of that contract another team is willing to assume will be the sticking point.
According to Baker the Braves feel Figgins is worth around $6 million per season, in which case they’d presumably want the Mariners to eat about $9 million in total salary. Cameron suggests a potential solution for that would be for the Braves to include Kenshin Kawakami and his $6.7 million salary for next season in the deal, in part because he helps make the money aspect work and in part because he could be a useful back-of-the-rotation starter in Seattle.
Either way, if reports of the Braves having interest in Figgins before Jones went down for the season were true, the two sides seemingly should be able to work something out.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.