Veteran infielder/outfielder Chone Figgins will sign a ceremonial one-day contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday and retire with the team he spent eight of 12 seasons with, the team announced on Sunday.
Not having played since a brief 38-game cameo with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014, Figgins’ decision to hang up his cleats was a formality. Never a top prospect during his early days in professional baseball, Figgins’ emergence as a stalwart in the Angels’ lineup for nearly a decade initially came as a surprise.
Originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 1997 MLB Draft, Figgins was projected as a fringe-type player. Figgins revealed in Sunday’s press release that the initial scouting reports on him motivated him to succeed (via MLB Trade Rumors).
“There was a quote written about me during my second year in the minors that I’ll never forget. It was a story about all minor leaguers and how scouts projected the progress of their careers. Mine said at best I would be a fringe big leaguer, if I ever made it. To me, that was the greatest quote I ever read about myself. Fringe is usually not a compliment in pro ball, but in my eyes, it meant I could be in the big leagues one day.”
In mid-July of 2001, the Rockies traded Figgins to the Angels in exchange for outfielder Kimera Bartee. While Figgins would go to become an All-Star, Bartee had just 15 at-bats with the Rockies in 2001 and never played in MLB again.
So happy for my man Chone Figgins that’s my brother!!! Started our career together in 1998 Portland Rockies! pic.twitter.com/dC8Q4dFM7x
— Juan Pierre (@JPBeastMode) March 20, 2016
Figgins made his MLB debut with the Angels in 2002. While he only took 12 trips to the plate in the regular season, he made six appearances as a pinch runner in the postseason, helping the Angels to their first — and only — World Series championship. The following season was Figgins’ first foray into being a full-time player at the big-league level.
Utilizing his blinding speed and on-base capabilities, Figgins was a rock atop the Angels’ lineup. Figgins recorded 40-plus stolen bases on four occasions during his stint with the Angels, including an AL-best 62 steals in 2005. While he spent most of his time playing third base, Figgins also saw time at all three outfield positions and every infield position except first base.
After enjoying arguably his best season in 2009, hitting 0.298 with five HR, 54 RBI, 42 stolen bases, and an AL-leading 101 walks, Figgins entered free agency for the first time. He signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the Seattle Mariners and brought his diverse skillset to a division rival. Unfortunately for both the Mariners and Figgins, he never replicated his past success.
Converting to full-time second base duty in 2010, Figgins reverted to his customary third base the following year. In the first three years of his new contract, Figgins hit just 0.227 with five HR and 61 RBI as he struggled in all facets of the game. Figgins did not finish out his four-year deal with the Mariners, as the team designated him for assignment after the 2012 season.
Latching on with the Miami Marlins for spring training in 2013, Figgins was cut before the season started and sat out the whole year. As mentioned, he made a 38-game cameo with the 2014 Dodgers, hitting just 0.217 with one RBI and four stolen bases.
Chone Figgins retires after 12 seasons in the MLB pic.twitter.com/E9V13mZP3h
— Everything MLB (@EverythingMLB1) March 20, 2016
All told, Figgins enjoyed a successful career, exceeding all initial expectations and scouting reports. Despite his small stature (five-foot-eight, 180 pounds), Figgins played with the tenacity of a giant. He retires as the Angels’ all-time leader in stolen bases (280) and second on the team’s all-time triples list (53). Figgins earned nearly $52 million in his career, per Baseball Reference.
[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]