Baseball

May 18, 2008

Outward Bound
Moving Ken Griffey Jr. makes lots of sense for the soon-to-be-rebuilding Reds,but what can he fetch in return?

TECHNICALLY, KenGriffey Jr. was first asked to okay a trade last Saturday at Shea Stadium.After seeing Griffey penciled into the lineup only for the opener of theday-night doubleheader against the Mets, teammate Adam Dunn, who was down onlyfor the nightcap, said, "I'll trade you." Griffey rejected thedeal.

The two sluggerswill most likely have more substantial swaps to discuss in the coming weeks,especially if the last-place Reds continue to flounder. New general managerWalt Jocketty has not begun serious trade talks involving Griffey or Dunn, buthe says, "We'd look at anything to improve the club, whether it be for nowor the future."

With outfielderand top prospect Jay Bruce ("An absolute stud," one G.M. says) nearlyready, it's time for a fresh start. A trade of Griffey or Dunn is unlikely tocause much backlash in Cincinnati. Despite hitting at least 40 homers in eachof the last four seasons, Dunn has been criticized for his .221 career averagewith runners in scoring position and his enormous strikeout totals. Griffey,whom Reds fans had hoped would be more accessible, has missed too many gamesdue to injury and has not been on a winning team since 2000, his first year inCincinnati.

For Jocketty,however, it won't be an easy sell to his fellow general managers. Both Dunn,28, and Griffey, 38, are off to slow starts and carry high salaries; inGriffey's case there's the age factor as well. "While Griffey and Dunn mayhave some value," says a G.M., "it's only a fraction of what it was. Idoubt they could get a premium prospect for either guy."

"If you needa guy like Dunn, why not just call [Barry] Bonds?" says another G.M. (Ofcourse, there are many reasons why Bonds isn't getting calls.)

But another execconcedes that with offense down throughout the majors, Griffey and Dunn (who'llbe a free agent at year's end) hold appeal as "quickfixes"—particularly in the AL, in which either player could occasionallyDH. And there is still upside for Griffey, argue some who attribute therightfielder's uninspiring start less to age than to anxiety over his pursuitof his 600th homer. Through Sunday he had 597.

Even if Jockettyfinds suitors—the Mariners and the White Sox could be possibilities forGriffey, while the Indians and the Padres could be good fits for Dunn—he stillhas to persuade his stars to go. Griffey can veto any trade, and Dunn has 10teams to which he can block a trade. "I am in the driver's seat,"Griffey told SI. "I have never been approached." His $16.5 millionoption for 2009 would complicate any potential deal; to waive his no-tradeclause, it's a good bet that Griffey would demand his new team guarantee thatoption.

Griffey created amini firestorm when he told USA Today that finishing his career in Seattleappeals to him. Both he and Dunn, however, have grown tired of the tradespeculation. "I was supposed to be traded every year since 1999," saysDunn, "when I was going to be traded [to Seattle] for Griffey."

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PHOTOJOHN IACONO (GRIFFEY) GOING,GOING ... Junior's $16.5 million option for 2009 could be a stickingpoint. PHOTODAVID KOHL/AP[See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)