WVSR-AM Sports at Phila Front Page News, Griffey traded from Reds to the White Sox
|Cincinnati Reds Ken Griffey Jr. hits a solo home run he off Colorado Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 26, 2008, in Cincinnati. The Rockies won 5-1.|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ken Griffey Jr. is leaving home to get back in a pennant race. The Chicago White Sox acquired Griffey from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, hoping the 38-year-old outfielder has enough left to help them hold onto their slim lead in the AL Central.
The Reds sent Griffey and cash to Chicago for reliever Nick Masset and Triple-A second baseman Danny Richar. The deal was announced a half-hour before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline to make trades without waivers.
Griffey, who hit his 600th home run this season, agreed to the trade earlier in the day. But because of the cash transaction involved, the deal did not become official until the commissioner's office approved it.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams had coveted Griffey for several years. Now older, it's uncertain how much Griffey has left in his often-injured body and where he will fit in with Chicago. Manager Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox began the day with a 1 1/2-game division lead over Minnesota.
"Ozzie has the opportunity to field his best team, offensively and defensively, on a day-to-day basis over the next two months," Williams said. "And this gives us a chance to keep some of our middle-of-the-order hitters fresh and producing down the stretch.
"I spoke with Ken, and he is excited to be coming to Chicago to try to help us reach the postseason," he said.
Williams said Griffey will give Guillen more options. Guillen has considered moving center fielder Nick Swisher to first base in place of slumping Paul Konerko, but had limited options to replace him in center.
Once one of baseball's premier players, Griffey has never reached the World Series and has not even been in the playoffs since 1997 with Seattle. The trade ended a bittersweet stay with his hometown team - a lot of injuries, a few benchmark homers, no playoff appearances.
Notably, his last hit with the Reds was a homer.
Griffey was on pace to break Hank Aaron's home run record when he came to Cincinnati in a trade with Seattle before the 2000 season. A series of severe injuries dropped him well off the pace. He finally reached No. 600 this season - only the sixth to get to the mark - but struggled mightily at the plate.
That short, sweet swing has slowed down this year.
He hit a three-run homer in a 9-5 win in Houston on Wednesday that left him with 15 homers, 53 RBIs and a .245 batting average despite playing in one of the major leagues' most homer-friendly ballparks. His 608th career homer left him one behind Sammy Sosa for fifth place on the career list.
Now, he can catch up with Sosa on the south side of Chicago. First, the White Sox have to figure out how he fits.
Griffey was an All-Century center fielder with Seattle in the 1990s, but his speed and range have diminished. The Reds moved him to right field before the 2007 season, hoping that less wear-and-tear on his legs would keep him fresher and healthier. Rookie Jay Bruce currently plays center for Cincinnati.
Griffey could go back to his old position in Chicago, with Swisher moving to first base. After Chicago lost to Minnesota 6-5 on Tuesday night, Guillen indicated he was considering shifting Swisher to first, but he wasn't confident anyone could take his place in center.
Swisher and Konerko could split the job at first, or Konerko and Jim Thome could platoon as the designated hitter. The White Sox are set in left and right field with Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye.
The Reds agreed to pay some of the money left on Griffey's contract to get the deal done. He makes $12.5 million this season, and has an option for 2009 at a $16.5 million salary. If the White Sox don't want to pick up next year's option, Griffey will be owed a $4 million buyout.
The Reds were interested in dealing Griffey because of the size of his contract and their plummet after the All-Star break, which dropped them back to near the bottom of the NL Central, 13 1/2 games out of first place. The Reds haven't had a winning season since 2000.
The trade that united Griffey with the Reds in 2000 was hailed as a major breakthrough for the franchise, but turned out to be far less than expected. After the 2002 season, former general manager Jim Bowden tried to trade Griffey to San Diego for Phil Nevin, who used his no-trade clause to block the deal.
Bowden was trying to work out a deal with the Yankees in 2003 before Griffey got hurt. The White Sox also have shown an interest in Griffey, but Reds ownership was reluctant to trade its most prominent player as he closed in on 600 homers.
Masset, a righty, was 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 32 games for Chicago. Richar hit .262 with nine homers for Triple-A Charlotte.