What was once perhaps a pipe dream now appears to be a few days shy of being reality as the Seattle Mariners are set to bring back the franchise’s biggest star in its history.
Multiple sources are reporting that the Mariners have stepped up their efforts to sign the 39-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. to a one-year contract now that their pursuit of sluggers Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn proved futile.
Griffey entered the league in a Mariners uniform after being a No. 1 overall pick by the franchise back in 1987. He played in Seattle from 1989 to 1999 where he was named the player of the decade (90’s) and one of 25 players named to baseball’s All Century Team. Without a doubt, Griffey was the best player in all of baseball when he left Seattle.
Since then it has been a crapshoot of trying to stay healthy and play on a winning team. With the Reds, Griffey spent the good portion of three seasons on the disabled list while missing 20 games or more in another two of his nine years with the team. In addition to that, it was always a struggle winning games in Cincinnati, a product primarily of their pitching but also of the hitters around him.
With the Mariners rebuilding this is the right move to make. Griffey at 39, certainly is no longer “the Kid” who used to roam centerfield in the Kingdome like a Blue Angel over Lake Washington. But he can still hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs when healthy and all signs indicate that he will be. He also can be a huge benefit in the clubhouse, tutoring young players like newly acquired CF Franklin Guiterrez among others. The ability for him to play DH will also be huge in making him successful.
Whether he performs well or not, the best part of this move is the franchise’s best player returns home and gets to retire as a Mariner as it should be. The nostalgia will be great and the intrigue for this season is already 10x higher in Seattle because of it.