Griffey could earn $3.9M in 2010
SEATTLE -- Ken Griffey Jr. is being rewarded for his leadership and seniority.
According to contract figures obtained Monday by The Associated Press, the deal Griffey signed this month to return to the Seattle Mariners for one more season as a 40-year-old calls for a $2.35 million base salary for 2010.
Baseball's active home run leader would earn $3.9 million if he again has at least 400 plate appearances, Seattle's attendance tops 2.5 million and Griffey again does not go on the disabled list while remaining on the roster for the entire season.
That's a higher and more attainable set of bonuses than previously believed.
Griffey earned $3.15 million in 2009 in his return to the team for which he debuted as a teenager in 1989. That included $2 million in base pay plus $1.15 million of a potential $3 million in bonuses.
The Mariners felt that was a bargain. Griffey, No. 5 all-time in the major leagues with 630 home runs, almost single-handedly transformed what had been a bickering, miserable clubhouse into a place where even formerly reclusive superstar Ichiro Suzuki goofed off.
Griffey's laughs and leadership was cited throughout the organization as a primary reason Seattle became the 13th team since 1901 to finish with a winning record the year after losing 100 games.
His teammates carried a tearful Griffey off the field on their shoulders after the season finale on Oct. 4, Seattle's 85th win.
Griffey had 456 plate appearances last season, during which his surgically repaired left knee was drained multiple times. The 10-time All-Star and the 1997 AL MVP for the Mariners hit .214 with 19 homers as a part-time designated hitter. He had another operation on the knee last month.
His fit into Seattle's lineup next season remains, in the words of general manager Jack Zduriencik, "to be determined. There's a lot of pieces we are trying to put together."
The Mariners are trying to bring back Russell Branyan, their leading home run hitter last season, but the free agent wants a multiyear deal. They would also like more consistent production from the DH.
Asked this month how often Griffey will be in the lineup in 2010, Zduriencik said, "That will be determined by performance on the field."
His supporters note how he led the Mariners in walks despite playing in only 117 games last season. They note how, based on his production per at-bat in 2009, he would have hit 30 home runs with 90 RBIs had he been a regular player over the full season.
Then again, he is now 40.
Zduriencik said Griffey has already told him he just wants to participate in the Mariners' rise back toward the top of the AL West, regardless of playing time.
"What he said was, 'I'd like to be a part of this. Hey, I'm a part of a 25-man club. Let the pieces fall where they may."
Griffey would get $100,000 in bonus money for reaching 350 plate appearances next season, and $200,000 each for 400, 450 and 500 plate appearances.
Once he reaches 350 plate appearances, he receives $100,000 if the Mariners draw 2.3 million fans to Safeco Field. He gets another $100,000 for 2.35 million fans. The bump goes to an additional $150,000 for 2.4 million in attendance and 400 plate appearances, $150,000 more for 2.45 million fans and $150,000 extra for 2.5 million.
In 2009, Griffey's presence did not drive up attendance as much as the team had hoped, though it likely prevented a steeper drop in a bad economy. The Mariners drew 2,195,284 at home, down from 2.33 million in 2008. It was the lowest in Seattle since 1995 at the Kingdome.
If Griffey is on the major league roster and off the disabled list at the end of the 2010 season, he gets another $50,000 for 2.4 million in paid attendance, $50,000 for 2.45 million fans and $100,000 more for 2.5 million fans.
There are also bonuses from $50,000-$150,000 each for an All-Star selection and being voted MVP. He would get $100,000 if he is named the Comeback Player of the Year.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press