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Kenny Lofton used to grumble that leadoff men never received their just financial reward. The troubled economy likely will create another unpredictable free-agent market. Yet, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts recently signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension. Roberts, like Figgins, is a switch-hitting leadoff man, only with more power.
The Angels, who also face free-agent decisions on right-hander John Lackey and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, will balk at retaining Figgins for $10 million per season. They were burned by the five-year, $50 million free-agent contract they gave outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. - and also know the Dodgers regret giving outfielder Juan Pierre a five-year, $44 million deal.
That said, I'll be pretty surprised if Figgins' agent can shake $10 million per season out of some gullible franchise. Figgins was once a fine player, a versatile defender who posted an OPS right around the league average and stole bases like crazy. That guy seems to have left us, though. Figgins can still play any number of positions competently and he can still steal like crazy. But the OPS is vanishing before our eyes, right along with Figgins' power. At his best, he slugged in the .400 range every season. Last season he slugged .318 and this season he's short of .300.
If you do a lot of other things well -- as Figgins does -- there's still a job for you in the major leagues. Just not a $10 million job. Not at Figgins' age. Not during the Great Recession. Not unless his agent finds a fool.