Ken Griffey Jr. Reds Ken Griffey Jr. salutes the crowd with Barry Larkin as he takes the field for the first introduction as a Cincinnati Red at Cinergy Field on April 3, 2000. Text 2000 0403 10 1reds Opening Day Nikon Dig Image Ken Griffey Jr Salutes The Crowd With Barry Larkin As He Takes The Field For The First Introduction As A Cincinnati Red At Cinergy Field Monday Photo By Craig Ruttle Cincinnati Enquirer

Ken Griffey Jr. hasn’t played an MLB game since 2010 and hasn’t suited up for the Cincinnati Reds since 2008. But he’ll be one of Cincinnati’s highest-paid players in 2022.

After the Reds sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to the Seattle Mariners, Richard Skinner of WKRC-TV in Cincinnati noted that Griffey will be paid more than all but five players on the current Reds team.

This brings up some natural questions. One, how is Griffey still drawing paychecks from the Reds? Griffey signed a nine-year, $112.5 million deal with the Reds in 2000. That deal has long since expired. But, as Chris Bengel of CBS Sports noted in an article from July 1, 2021 (AKA: Bobby Bonilla Day), “as part of a deferred payment arrangement, an estimated 50 percent of Griffey’s contract was deferred from 2009 until 2024, so Griffey receives $3.59 million per year.”

That brings us to question two. How is Griffey (seen at right above in 2000 with Barry Larkin) getting paid more than all but five of the current Reds? After all, while $3.59 million is a lot of money to the average person, it’s not a huge number in terms of MLB players.

Well, Cincinnati has been busy coming out of the lockout. That activity has been almost exclusively limited to cutting funds. In addition to sending Suarez and Winker to Seattle, the Reds also sent Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins. Prior to the lockout, outfielder Nick Castellanos declined his option for 2022.

As such, per Spotrac, the only Reds set to make more than Griffey’s $3.59 million in 2022 are Joey Votto ($25 million), Mike Moustakas ($16 million), Shogo Akiyama ($8 million), Luis Castillo ($7.5 million) and Tyler Mahle ($5.5 million). And, with the exception of Votto — who has a no-trade clause as well as full 10-and-5 rights — it would not be especially surprising if any of those players were suited up for another team on Opening Day.

Anything is possible. Still, it seems unlikely that the Reds will be winning the franchise’s first World Series since 1990 in 2022.

[Richard Skinner]

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