As I wrote in this story that will be published in Wednesday’s Seattle Times, the Mariners will very soon have to make a yea-or-nay call on Ken Griffey Jr.
From their standpoint, it’s a real conundrum. And also for their fans, apparently. Just look at the comments after my story to see the divergence of opinion. Half the people think bringing back Griffey would be the greatest thing ever, and half think it would be the stupidest thing ever — the same debate raging elsewhere on this blog. There are compelling arguments each way. I can understand fans wanting to have one last stand with the greatest player the team has ever produced. I can understand fans saying that ship has sailed, and it’s time to move on. That’s why I used the word “conundrum.”
What’s clear now is that Griffey really, really wants to play here. In the story, I quote Harold Reynolds, a close friend of Griffey’s, as saying: “He’s personally told me he’d love to be in Seattle.”
My sense is that Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik is playing out all other trade and signing possibilities, and if nothing that he deems better comes to fruition, the Mariners will re-evaluate the Griffey scenario and make their call. That’s the way I see it, anyway. My hunch — and it’s only a hunch — is that the lure of Griffey will ultimately prove irresistible.
Speaking of trade and signing possibilities, this blog in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune from the reliable Joe Christensen shoots down the Jarrod Washburn-to-the-Twins possibility. As a Twins’ source told Joe, “They missed their chance.” The reference, of course, is to the Mariners pulling back Washburn last August after the Twins had claimed him on waivers.
Abreu remains a valid Mariners’ target, I believe, but they’d have to find a way to make it work in their budget. That would apparently require some sort of salary dump, which will test Zduriencik’s creativity. Meanwhile, the report in the New York Daily News that the White Sox had offered Abreu a one-year, $8 million contract was countered by an ESPN report that the talks have stalled. People with connections to the White Sox told me today the same thing that ESPN said — the White Sox can’t move on Abreu unless they trade Jermaine Dye. And his $11.5-million contract isn’t easy to peddle.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, could take a look at Abreu — or Adam Dunn — if their negotiations with Manny Ramirez fall through. But I’ve felt all along that the Dodgers will ultimately sign Manny, once all the whining and dining is done. Who else is going to pay him anything like $25 million a year? There’s going to be some gamesmanship in the upcoming days, but I’d still wager that Manny ends up back in L.A.
The point is that Abreu remains open to the Mariners — and I hear that he is quite intrigued by the possibility. We’ll have to see how this plays out. As you can see, they’re all entwined — Griffey, Abreu and Washburn (I’m assuming that Miguel Batista and Carlos Silva, the Mariners’ other potential salary dumps, are untradeable. Washburn, I believe, still has value as a back-of-the-rotation starter, though the Mariners would no doubt have to eat part of his $10.35-million contract). At any rate, the end game is nearing. Who knows? Zduriencik might pull a surprise trade out of his hat that wraps this all up into a neat bow.
On another front, Zduriencik said he has had recent discussions with Scott Boras, agent for relief pitcher Josh Fields, last year’s still-unsigned No. 1 draft pick.
“I don’t think we ever closed the door,” Zduriencik said. “It’s always been open. Our conversations have been cordial.”
Photo credit: Al Behrman/AP
February 3, 2009 at 9:40 PM