Ken Griffey Jr. traded to White Sox

July 31, 2008 3:10:02 PM PDT
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.

The Reds will receive pitcher Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar in return.

This is a season to remember for Chicago baseball fans. Both the Cubs and Sox are in first place. And on Thursday, the teams had good news for their fans -- the Cubs swept Milwaukee while the White Sox traded for Ken Griffey Jr.

Both Cubs and Sox fans say bringing a future Hall of Famer and 600+ career home run hitter to Chicago just brings more spice to a baseball season that is already hot.

The big trade was also on the minds of fans at the National Sports Collectors Convention Thursday.

"I think it's great. I'm also a Griffey fan. And I think it's great. I hope he can play center and not pull anything. So, Junior, do it for us, buddy," said George Mansfield, Sox fan.

"For the White Sox, I'm excited for them. For the Cubs, we're pretty much set," said cubs fan Scott Paul.

"He's a very surprising hitter. Even though his batting average is not where people expect it to be, he's still going to bring it to the plate. He's going to bring a lot to the team," said Cubs fan Ronnie Holloway.

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.

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.

While the Reds (51-58) languish in their division, the White Sox (60-46) lead the AL Central by 1½ games over the Minnesota Twins and 5½ over the Detroit Tigers.

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.

This isn't the first time White Sox general manager Kenny 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 manager Ozzie 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.''

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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