The Cincinnati Reds made an effort to save money on their payroll earlier this offseason when they traded star sluggers Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Seattle Mariners. Now, with the likes of Winker and Suarez on the move, one of the Reds' highest-paid players in 2022 will be someone who hasn't played professional baseball in 12 years.
Ken Griffey Jr., who retired in 2010, will be paid $3.6 million this year by the Reds, putting him No. 6 on the payroll in Cincinnati.
No, the 52-year-old isn't coming out of retirement anytime soon. Instead, this all stems from a nine-year, $112.5 million contract extension that Griffey signed in 2000. As part of that deal, the Reds deferred payment to him from 2009 to 2024. It all adds up to Griffey being set to make an estimated $3.6 million this season.
While that's not a lofty salary by today's standards, the Reds traded Winker, Suarez and starting pitcher Sonny Gray, which opened the door for Griffey to move among the highest-paid players on the roster. The only players that are expected to make more than Griffey are:
- Joey Votto ($25 million)
- Mike Moustakas ($16 million)
- Shogo Akiyama ($8 million)
- Luis Castillo ($7.5 million but is arbitration eligible)
- Tyler Mahle ($5.5 million, but is arbitration eligible)
During his nine seasons with the Reds, Griffey produced a .270 batting average to go along with 210 home runs and 602 RBI in a tenure that was hampered by injuries.
Deferred payments like the ones part of Griffey's deal are certainly nothing new when it comes to MLB franchises. The New York Mets have infamously deferred payments to Bobby Bonilla to the tune of $1.2 million since the 2011 season and that arrangement will continue to take place until 2035. On July 1 every year, Bonilla receives his $1.2 million payment -- despite the fact that he's been retired since 2001.
Even some active players are on deferred deals. When Mets pitcher Max Scherzer signed with Washington Nationals back in 2015, he deferred half of his $210 million contract to a seven-year timeframe that begins in 2022.