Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Marlins have released Chone Figgins, reducing their major league camp size to 42 players. Who benefits from this move?
Since the destined signing of Chone Figgins happened, it seemed very likely that the Miami Marlins would attempt to use him as a reclamation project on the bench as a utility player. After all, despite Figgins being one of the worst regular players in all of baseball in the last three seasons, he was still a veteran grinder who could play multiple positions decently. It sounded like a perfect match for a team that adores veteran players that do not do much on the bench.
Alas, it seems as though that pairing was not long for this world, as the Marlins cut Figgins, lowering their major league camp number down to 42 players. Figgins was hitting .308/.367/.308 with eight hits in 29 plate appearances, so it was not as though the Marlins made this decision based on spring training performance. Rather, it is likely that the team felt like it did not see enough from Figgins to merit him staying on the roster, given the team's options at utility infielder.
Well, that would be a logical bit of reasoning if it were not for the fact that the Marlins do not have options at utility infielder. The player who stands to gain the most from this move is Nick Green, who had an excellent 2012 season in Triple-A but has otherwise been as journeyman a minor league infielder as you can get. Chris Valaika is a possibility, except he is a career .280/.324/.413 hitter in the minors who just recently hit .223/.368/.347 as a 26-year-old in Triple-A. As a 27-year-old, he probably has a better chance of developing some talent than the 34-year-old Green, but the odds are not great on that either.
The Marlins have another utility infielder type in Matt Downs, and he may have the most interesting potential to replace Figgins as the backup infielder on the team. Downs has hit .296/.358/.473 in the minors and spent the last few years on the bench with the Houston Astros. He at least had one very successful season in the majors (.276/.347/.518 in 222 plate appearances in 2011), so he has at least shown success.
The Marlins did not really have that many options at the position Figgins was expected to fill, but that does not mean cutting Figgins was a bad move. It essentially ends up being an irrelevant move more than anything else, since any one of his options are likely to be about as poor.