How much of a bargain does Griffey have to be?
Condensed Hickey: the M’s
could do a lot worse than bring Griffey back to Seattle with a low-cost, potentially high-reward contract for 2009.
It’s hard for me to grasp this, but Griffey will be 39 next season. Over the last three years, he’s played 132 games/year, averaged 482 at-bats, and hit about .260/.350/.470. If he’d agree to give up the field (and since his preference seems to be that he play center, then right grudgingly, that isn’t a given), that beats an average AL DH’s line of .256/.339/.435, but not by a lot. If we factor in a tiny bit of aging, Griffey would probably be worth 10-20 runs over picking some lumbering no-glove type off the transaction driftwood pile and stuffing them into the slot.
That’s worth $5-10m on a one-year deal if you get 162 games out of him. But considering that you still need to find some way to get another 30 DH games out of there, there’s another discount you need to get to make this a break-even proposition, and now you’re at $4m-$8m.
Anything beyond that has to be the M’s getting money back in non-baseball reasons from Griffey love, and we’ve touched on this before — this kind of thing might get them a brief spike, but it’s not as if there’ll be a massive swell of season-ticket buyers renewing over this news. Otherwise it’s faith in a year-39 career resurgence for Griffey based on things like “Safeco Field was designed for him” (though he didn’t like hitting here) and feel-good wishing.
I don’t think Griffey will sign anywhere for a contract low enough to make it what Hickey wants here. A bargain contract based on his likely contributions as a DH, say a 50% discount to the value he’d contribute on the field would mean he signs a one-year, $2-$4m deal. That seems unlikely on its face. That the M’s have done much worse, as Hickey notes, doesn’t mean that they can’t do much better.