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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

September 22, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Ken Griffey Jr. on target to get half his incentives


When the Mariners signed Ken Griffey Jr. to an innovative contract that contained $3 million in performance bonuses, based primarily on attendance and plate appearances, president Chuck Armstrong said, “I hope I write those checks.”

Turns out the Mariners will probably owe Griffey only about half the amount that was hammered out with Griffey’s agent, Brian Goldberg, during those hectic final days in February when Griffey was deciding between Seattle and Atlanta.

According to details of Griffey’s contract obtained by Associated Press shortly after he signed, Griffey’s bonus schedule was as follows:

  • Category 1: $250,000 each for 450 and then 500 plate appearances.

  • Category 2: If the Mariners drew 2 million fans, he earned $100,000 more for 300 plate appearances, $200,000 more for 350 plate appearances, and $200,000 more for 400 plate appearances.

  • Category 3: Griffey gets an additional $200,000 each if: Mariners’ paid attendance is 2.1 million and he has 300 plate appearances; they draw 2.15 million and he has 350 plate appearances; they draw 2.2 million and he has 400 plate appearances; they draw 2.25 million and he has 450 plate appearances; they draw 2.3 million and he has 500 plate appearances.

  • Category 4: If Griffey is on the major-league roster through July 31, he gets $50,000 each for paid attendance of 2.35 million, 2.4 million, 2.45 million, 2.5 million, 2.55 million and 2.6 million.

  • Category 5: If he is on the major-league roster through the last day of the regular season, he gets $100,000 each for attendance of 2.65 million, 2.7 million, 2.75 million, 2.8 million, 2.85 million, 2.95 million and 3 million.

    (The bonuses would be pro-rated for any days Griffey spent on the disabled list, but he has avoided the DL for 2009).

  • Category 6: Griffey had awards bonus incentives of $50,000 for being an All-Star starter and $25,000 for being selected as an All-Star reserve; $150,000 for winning the MVP award; $50,000 for being a Gold Glove defensive player; $50,000 for a Silver Slugger award; and $100,000 for being the comeback player of the year. He would get $100,000 for being the World Series MVP and $50,000 for being the MVP of the league championship series.

    All that, by the way, is on top of his $2 million base salary.

    Let’s examine those categories one by one. As background, the Mariners have drawn 2,060,163 through 75 home dates. They have six more games at Safeco Field — next Tuesday through Thursday against Oakland (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), and Friday through Sunday against the Rangers (Oct. 2-4).

    I’m going to project an average of 30,000 for those six games, which would bring the season total to 2,240,163. At any rate, they could still draw 2.25 million, but not likely 2.3 million (even if they average 40,000 for the six games, they’d fall just short, and while the final weekend should come close to filling up the place, the A’s weekday games are unlikely to draw that well).

    As an aside, the M’s drew 2,332,530 last year, so they’re looking at a slight drop. I suppose that’s not bad, when you balance the presence of Griffey and the team’s improvement against the fact they were coming off a 101-loss season and the still-stagnant economy.

    Griffey has 417 plate appearances with 12 games to play for the Mariners. He should reach 450 plate appearances, even if he sits against a few lefties down the stretch. The M’s are scheduled to face southpaws in three of the six games on the current road trip, plus Oakland’s rotation is filled with lefties, so it could get dicey. But I still think he’ll get there; considering the possibility that these could be Griffey’s final days, manager Don Wakamatsu is liable to play him against all comers on the homestand.

    Let’s look at each category:

    In Category 1, give him $250,000 for 450 plate appearances.

    In Category 2, Griffey earns the full $500,000.

    In Category 3, Griffey could earn $800,000 out of the possible $1 million (or $600,000, if attendance doesn’t reach 2.25 million or he doesn’t reach 450 plate appearances).

    In Category 4, he’s unlikely to earn any of the potential $300,000 because attendance won’t reach 2.35 million.

    In Category 5, he won’t earn any of the potential $700,000, because even though he’ll remain in the roster the entire season, attendance won’t reach 2.65 million.

    In Category 6, he won’t earn any of the potential $575,000 in awards bonuses, unless the league’s coaches and managers decide to vote him his 11th Gold Glove based on his 11 games in the outfield. Hey, it worked once for Rafael Palmeiro.

    Add it all up, and that’s $1.55 million in bonuses for Griffey, which would bring his total compensation for 2009 to $3.55 million.

    Considering what Griffey’s return has meant to the team and the organization, I’d say that’s a bargain.

    (Photo by Associated Press)

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