Last night was the deadline for teams to finalize their rosters without risking players to the Rule 5 draft. Players who both signed when they were eighteen or younger and accumulated five years of service time (anybody older than 18 only needs to accrue four years of service time; those meeting that threshold are eligible as well) are now eligible for the Rule 5 draft, unless they are on a 40 man roster. Thus, teams spent most of the week determining who needed to be added and purged from their 40 man squad.
And as you all have undoubtedly heard by now, the big announcement is that Chone Figgins was designated for assignment to clear space on the 40 man. Though his 4 year, $36 million contract was once hailed as a bargain, Figgins will go down as the biggest free agent flop in franchise history. He was utterly miserable in his three years in Mariner blue and teal: all told, he was worth -.8 WAR, a number that fails to accurately convey how badly he looked (he was actually worth 1.1 WAR in 2010, boosting his total) throughout his tenure in Seattle. Over the past two seasons, Figgins played in less than 150 games, yet managed to be worse than two wins below replacement level, hitting an appalling .185/.249/.253 in the process.
I do think Figgins, for the most part, handled the situation as well as can be expected, and he deserves some credit for that. Other than a brief moment of candor at the end of this season, Figgins never publicly complained about his dwindling role with the team. He won't be missed by any fans in this city, but I hope his attitude prevents his legacy from dipping into Spiezio territory.
The M's entered the day with thirty-seven players on their forty man roster, a number that dropped to thirty-six after DFA'ing Figgins. The M's also designated the recently acquired Scott Cousins for assignment. Cousins was unlikely to have much of a future in the organization anyways, but it is strange that he was obtained and dumped so quickly. After demoting Cousins and Figgins, the M's had five available spots for new players.
They tabbed pitchers Brandon Mauerer, Bobby LaFromboise, and Anthony Fernandez along with outfielder/third basemen Vinnie Catricala and outfielder Julio Morban. Mauerer was the no-brainer, as he established himself as one of the top prospects on the farm. LaFramboise and Fernandez are both lefties, and both profile as mid-inning guys or LOOGY's. Catricala struggled in Triple A last season, but the organization isn't ready to give up on one of the few potential impact bats in the upper minors. Morban is the surprise of the group. He's only 20 (he signed very young out of the Dominican republic) but an impressive showing in the Cal League increased his standing in the organization. He'll head to double A next year to prove that he's not the product of a hitter friendly environment.
Notably absent are Andrew Carraway (a strike-throwing right-handed starter), Brian Moran (a lefty reliever who might have a big league future), and James Jones (a toolsy outfielder who once appeared in Keith Law's top 100 prospects list).
Those three, and all other eligible members of the organization, will only leave the organization if they are drafted in the Rule 5 draft. Even if drafted, they would then need to spend the entire 2013 season on a major league club's active roster. It happens occasionally (Lucas Luetge is one example) but it's unlikely that the M's will lose much, and even if someone like Carraway sticks in the big leagues, he isn't an impact player.