According to John Heyman of ESPN.com, Cliff Floyd indicated that he will likely retire following this season.
The Rays don’t have a set starting right fielder, but the lefthanded-hitting Eric Hinske (11 home runs, 31 RBI) has done a nice job as part of a rotation, and a righthanded hitter might actually be a better fit. Veteran Cliff Floyd (.250, 5 HRs) has been solid serving as the lefthanded DH for the Rays but is injury prone and has been held out of the lineup in recent days. Floyd said earlier this year he’s pretty sure this will be his last season.
Floyd signed with the Rays as a free agent this past off-season with a 1-year, $2.75 million deal. The Rays do have a team option for ’09 at the same price. However, the buyout is a manageable $250K, so it will be very easy for both sides to just walk away. In fact, one would have to think that the Rays would consider the move even if Floyd does choose to play in ’09. For all his leadership attributes, Floyd has only played in 24 of the Rays 68 games, having missed more than a month with knee surgery.
As a potential replacement, Jayson Stark suggested Ken Griffey Jr, noting that the Reds may prefer to trade Giffey, but might not find any suitors this season and are not likely to pick up his $16.5 million ’09 option.
But if you’re looking for a destination Griffey could land in next year, once there are no worries about surrendering prospects or picking up a $16-million contract, here’s a club we’ve started to hear some guesswork about: Tampa Bay. The Trop is an easy commute from Griffey’s home in Orlando. It’s a fun team on the rise, with a chance to win. And it’s an AL team that could mix in some DH-ing opportunities. So why not? “If I were them, I think it would be a great move,” said one veteran baseball man. “You run him out there with his big smile and his sweet swing, and it’s a drawing card. And even if he’s slipped, you’re putting another left-handed bat in the middle of that lineup. Could be scary.”
Heyman responded today by suggesting that the Rays and Reds would make excellent trade partners this season.
Those who know Ken Griffey Jr. know that nothing is more important than family to the newest member of baseball’s 600-home run club. Now Griffey, a longtime resident of the Orlando, Fla. area, is telling friends he’s monitoring the surprising Tampa Bay Rays as a possible destination for him, should the Reds decide to deal him.
Griffey, 39, has a no-trade clause but has told intimates that if the Rays stay in the race, he’d consider waiving his veto power to go home. Or close to home, anyway. Tampa is much nearer his Orlando area residence than any other big-league city. Griffey’s tony Isleworth community is about an hour from St. Petersburg, where the Rays play.
The biggest issue is of course money. Griffey still has about $7 million coming to him from his $12.5 million ’08 salary. His ’09 option has a $4 million buyout.
If the Rays were to trade for Griffey, it would in all likelihood require the Reds to pay a chunk of his remaining ’08 salary. In addition, the Rays and Griffey would probably need to rework his ’09 contract into a guaranteed salary at a lower rate. However, Griffey may only be willing to do that if the Rays agree to add a guaranteed second year to the deal.
The other issue of course is whether Griffey represents a significant enough upgrade over Floyd, Eric Hinske and Gabe Gross. With the opportunity to DH, Griffey could conceivably have an opportunity to play in more games which could allow him to rediscover his stroke. Depending on the price, that could be too much risk for what ultimately may only be a marginal upgrade statistically.
On the other hand, the chance to put one of the game’s most loved faces in a Rays’ uniform and his name written into the lineup every night, could make a significant impact at the turntiles.
While the idea of Griffey to the Rays is an intriguing one, we have to wonder how Griffey would hold up unless he was a DH on most days. We have already seen the effect of the Trop’s artificial surface on Carl Crawford’s knee.