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Why Is Ken Griffey Jr. Currently The Sixth-Highest Paid Cincinnati Reds Player?

The MLB lockout ended last week, and the Cincinnati Reds got straight to work to ensure their roster is ready for the abbreviated spring training.

NBC Sports reports that on Sunday, the Reds traded veteran right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins for the team’s 2021 first-round pick, pitcher Chase Petty. Outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez were traded by the Reds to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Justin Dunn, outfielder Jake Fraley, pitcher Brandon Williamson and another player to be named later Monday.

Although there are new names and faces — and with that comes the players’ contracts — on the Cincinnati roster, one Hall of Famer is the sixth-highest paid player on the 2022 payroll.

Spotrac shows “an updated look at the Cincinnati Reds 2022 payroll table, including base pay, bonuses, options, & tax allocations”— just below it, former Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.‘s name can be seen bringing home the sixth-highest amount currently listed.

The first six players listed on Spotrac’s Cincinnati Reds 2022 Payroll.
Griffey Jr.’s 2022 deferred salary is more than the $3.5 million annual salary listed for Tyler Naquin, making the Hall of Famer the sixth-highest paid player on the roster.

Griffey Jr.’s salary is listed under the “2022 Deferred Salaries” — or “salaries for players who had salaries deferred to the current year,” according to Spotrac’s website — which the site states is not counting against the active payroll.

Spotrac’s website shows a portion of former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.’s salary has been deferred to the Reds’ 2022 Deferred Salaries.

When Griffey Jr. signed the nine-year, $112.5 million deal with Cincinnati shortly after he was acquired in a trade with Seattle in 2000, CBS Sports reports an estimated 50% of the slugger’s contract was deferred — beginning in 2009 until 2024 — so Griffey Jr. receives just over $3.59 million per year.

Griffey Jr. isn’t the only one, though. Here are just a few examples:

Manny Ramirez
Former Boston Red Sox player Manny Ramirez looks on before the Red Sox home opening game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on April 9, 2019, in Boston. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images).

The Boston Red Sox signed Manny Ramirez to an eight-year, $160 million deal in 2000.

As part of the deal, Ramirez was to be paid $32 million in deferred payments from 2011 to 2026 — Ramirez earns approximately $1.968 million per year, CBS Sports reports.

Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday (7) of the Colorado Rockies bats against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on August 26, 2018, in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images).

CBS Sports reports that when outfielder Matt Holliday was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, the Cardinals signed Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million contract with $15 million of the deal deferred to the next year. The outfielder went on to help the Cardinals win the World Series in 2011 and eventually retired in 2018.

Holliday’s annual payments of $1.5 million started in 2020 and he’ll receive payments until 2029.

Bruce Sutter
Former St. Louis Cardinals and Hall of Fame Bruce Sutter waves to the crowd during the 2018 home opener game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 05, 2018, at Bush Stadium in Saint Louis Mo. (Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

CBS Sports reports that while Griffey Jr.’s numbers seem like Bobby Bonilla figures — who gets $1.19 million from the New York Mets until 2035 — pitcher Bruce Sutter may be the closest.

Sutter signed a six-year contract that paid him $4.8 million in 1984, but his tenure was plagued by injuries. He began receiving deferred payments in 1991 from the Atlanta Braves — annually for $1.12 million, through 2022 — meaning Sutter has been receiving deferred payments for 31 years.

CBS Sports reports the Braves will also have to pay Sutter one final check for $9.1 million when the deferred payments stop … 35 years after he announced his retirement.


Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner


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Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter at @Megnturner_ and Instagram at @Megnturner.

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