- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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Ken Griffey Jr. approved a trade from the Cincinnati Reds to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, paving the way for the future Hall of Famer to pursue a spot in the World Series for the first time in his career.
The deal was announced officially by the Reds in a news release at 3:30 p.m., a half-hour before the trade deadline.
Sources said the Reds and White Sox will essentially "split" what remains on Griffey's contract this season, along with the cost of his $4 million buyout for 2009. The Reds had a $16.5 million club option for 2009 on Griffey, but Chicago did not have to exercise the option as part of the deal.
Richar, 25, came to the White Sox from Arizona in a trade for outfielder Aaron Cunningham in June 2007. He's hitting .262 in 62 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season.
Masset, formerly of the Texas organization, came to Chicago as part of the John Danks-Brandon McCarthy trade in December 2006. He's 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 32 relief appearances for the White Sox this year.
The Reds approached Griffey on Wednesday night in Houston and asked if he would waive his contractual rights to accept a deal to the White Sox, according to a baseball source. Griffey had the right to veto any trade because he has 10 years of major-league service time and five years with the Reds.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was surprised when the White Sox approached him on Wednesday about Griffey, who was also caught off-guard by the trade offer.
"I think he was just a little bit surprised, maybe, but I think he thought about it and said he wanted to talk to his family about it," Jocketty said. "I think he agreed it's a very good opportunity for him, and the club obviously wanted him and pursued him and came after him. That's got to be a good feeling for him, I guess."
The trade was first reported by FoxSports.com.
Griffey, 38, is hitting .245 with 15 home runs for Cincinnati this season. On June 9, he joined Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa as the sixth player in history to hit 600 homers.
"Ozzie [White Sox manager Guillen] has the opportunity to field his best team, offensively and defensively, on a day-to-day basis over the next two months," Chicago GM Kenny Williams said. "And this gives us a chance to keep some of our middle-of-the-order hitters fresh and producing down the stretch.
"I spoke with Ken, and he is excited to be coming to Chicago to try to help us reach the postseason," he added.
The White Sox said that Griffey is expected to be in the White Sox lineup on Friday, but they will not know definitely whether or not he will play until the lineup is posted before the game against the Royals in Kansas City.
Griffey hit his 15th home run of the season in Wednesday night's 9-5 win over Houston. It was the 608th of his career, moving him within one of Sosa for fifth on the all-time list. Griffey extended his hitting streak to 12 games and has 1,139 extra-base hits, one behind Ty Cobb for 10th all time.
"Maybe he's not the player at 38 that he was at 28 but, as you saw last night, he's still a force on a ballclub, and I think he'll definitely help the White Sox a lot," Jocketty said.
This isn't the first time Williams has made a run at Griffey. In 2005, the White Sox tried to trade three prospects to Cincinnati for Griffey. But Carl Lindner, then the CEO of the Reds, reportedly stepped in and vetoed the trade because Chicago wanted Cincinnati to pay 60 percent of the $40 million-plus that was owed to Griffey at the time.
Some media outlets have categorized Griffey as untradable because of the widespread perception he would insist on having his $16.5 million option exercised in conjunction with a deal. But sources said Griffey was willing to consider returning to Cincinnati for a lower annual price if the Reds might consider tacking an extra year onto his deal.
It's believed Griffey is just as concerned with where he fits in Chicago as the financial ramifications. The White Sox have Jermaine Dye in right field, Nick Swisher in center and Carlos Quentin in left, with Paul Konerko at first base and Jim Thome at DH.
When Konerko was on the disabled list recently with an oblique injury, the White Sox moved Swisher to first base and played Brian Anderson and Dewayne Wise in center field. Konerko, Chicago's team captain, returned on July 8. He's hitting .214, and there have been calls for Guillen to bench him. The White Sox went 13-7 when Konerko was on the disabled list.
But as Guillen told Chicago reporters this week, Swisher is hitting just slightly better than Konerko at .230.
''People say, 'Put Konerko on the bench, do this with Konerko, do that with Konerko,'" Guillen said in the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday. "Who's going to play first? Swisher? Oh. Do me a favor, check the book first and check Swisher and Konerko's averages, and it's not that much different.''
Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
14hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com