February 10, 2013 by Matt Musico
On this date in 2000, Cincinnati agreed to send Brett Tomko, Jake Meyer, Mike Cameron, and Antonio Perez to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Ken Griffey, Jr. The 30-year-old was coming back home to the team made his MLB debut with and spent 12 of his 19 years in professional baseball with.
Junior came to terms on a nine-year/$116.5 million contract to complete the deal and stay with the Reds for the long-term. Considering what he did during his time in the Pacific Northwest, this was quite the discount. In 13 years with the Mariners, Griffey won the 1997 AL MVP, was selected to 11 straight All-Star games, won 10 straight Gold Gloves, and captured seven Silver Sluggers. He enjoyed 10 seasons of 20+ homers (six years of 40+ HR) and drove in 100+ runs on seven occasions.
This was one of the first times we saw a team get burned for giving out a $100 million contract to a player that was already in his 30s. Griffey immediately paid dividends in 2000, as he hit .271/.387/.556 with 40 homers and 118 RBI in an All-Star season, but a series of injuries of the next few years would define most of his tenure with the Reds.
He would put together two more seasons of 30+ HR and 90+ RBI, but before getting traded to the White Sox in the middle of the 2008 season, Griffey played at least 144 games in a season only twice in Cincinnati…something he had done six times with the Mariners. Despite not living up to the expectations of his huge contract, Junior still played well when he was on the field, putting together a .270/.362/.514 line with 210 homers and 602 RBI in 945 games played, which was a part of his 630 career bombs (6th all-time) and 1,836 RBI (15th all-time).
When I was a kid, I loved watching Griffey play. I mean, who didn’t, right? I would sit there and watch his sweet swing, then try to imitate it in my bedroom, dreaming about watching a baseball sail over the fence. What I enjoy most about looking back at Griffey’s career is that even though he had a hard time staying on the field, he hasn’t been associated once with PEDs. He was at the height of his game during the height of the steroid era, and it’s gratifying to know that he did what he did on pure talent and with no help from snythetic substances. He will always be one of my favorite players that I had the pleasure to watch.
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