Ken Griffey Jr. had a long Hall of Fame playing career, and as it turns out he is also a Hall of Famer when it comes to deferred money.
Ken Griffey Jr. spent the peak years of his Hall of Fame career with the Seattle Mariners, before playing several years back home with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds traded him to the Chicago White Sox during the 2008 season, and he finished his career back with the Mariners in 2009 and 2010.
Griffey went into the Hall of Fame as a near-unanimous first-ballot election in 2016. But as it turns out, he’s also a Hall of Famer in another area.
The poster boy for collecting deferred money is Bobby Bonilla, who is set to get money (with interest) from the New York Mets every July 1 until 2035 (and has been doing so since 2011). Even the Baltimore Orioles, who Bonilla barely played for, owe him several more deferred money payments. As we go along to the future, we’ll see some players the Washington Nationals signed to big free agent deals collecting big deferred money payments after their careers are over.
Ken Griffey Jr. still takes up space on the Reds balance sheet
The Reds have started a fire sale since the MLB lockout ended, trading pitcher Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins and following that by sending outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez to the Seattle Mariners. There have been indications they would trade people with reducing payroll in mind, and they’re coming through on that promise.
Griffey signed a nine-year, $112.5 million deal with the Reds in 2000, shortly after being acquired from the Mariners. The deal included deferred payments of $3.59 million each year from 2009-2024.
Via Spotrac, a look at the Reds’ updated 2022 payroll table shows three guaranteed salaries at the top–Joey Votto ($25 million), Mike Moustakas ($16 million) and Shogo Akiyama ($8 million). Luis Castillo’s arbitration estimate is $7.5 million, and Tyler Mahle’s arbitration estimate is $5.5 million. After that, Tyler Naquin’s $3.5 million arbitration estimate is the next highest salary number.
Further down, under “deferred salaries”, is Griffey’s $3,593,750. So, counting Castillo and Mahle’s arbitration estimates (and assuming they aren’t traded)…
Assuming he doesn’t climb the standings before Opening Day, Griffey sits as the sixth highest-paid Reds “player” for 2022. He’s been in the Hall of Fame for going on six years, and last played for the Reds when they also had guys like Adam Dunn, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Edwin Encarnacion.
But on the bright side, the Reds are only on the hook for two more deferred payments to Griffey.