In Cincinnati, agent Brian Goldberg has been calling GMs and fielding a few in return, and said this week that Ken Griffey Jr. is open to playing anywhere.
The news there, he acknowledged, is that Melissa Griffey and family told Junior to go where he could play the most and perhaps win a ring.
According to Goldberg, the Griffeys don’t want to limit the teams he might play for by geography.
For Mariners fans who watched Junior demand a trade and leave Seattle to play closer to home – he lives in Florida – that news is painfully ironic.
Now Junior, a free agent at age 39, is willing to return to the Mariners.
Though he batted just .249 last season with 18 home runs, he’s since undergone surgery on an ailing knee that was drained three times in 2008. That may not correct slowing bat speed, but it could well boost his power totals.
Goldberg said he h as been in touch with nine teams, six of them in the National League.
The Mariners are one of three American League teams Goldberg contacted, and the response was … um … polite. A rebuilding team with an eye on ’09 and well beyond, the Mariners and new GM Jack Zduriencik understandably don’t have Grifffey – or any other elder statesman of the game – high on their priority list.
That doesn’t mean Junior isn’t coming back. It means the Mariners won’t be the first team to make him an offer. Or the second.
If Griffey remains on the market and the Mariners sort things out, it’s possible a reunion could take place, but it’s a longshot at best.
It won’t come down to money – Griffey isn’t looking for the highest contract. Rather, it will be a matter of what other teams want him. whether they have the chance to win and what role Junior would be allowed to play.
At the moment, Griffey is a distant option for the Mariners, just as Seattle is a fallback position for him. Still, he’s willing to play where his career started, and the team hasn’t ruled him out.
It’s a delicate dance neither side wants to make too much out of – and both parties want to continue for now.