The year is 2023, and Ken Griffey Jr. is currently slated to be the fourth-highest paid player by the Cincinnati Reds this season.
Griffey inked a nine-year/$112.5 million contract with the Reds ahead of the 2000 season, shortly after being acquired in a trade from the Seattle Mariners. The 13-time All-Star's deal included deferrals from 2009 to 2024, so Griffey is in the penultimate season of receiving $3.59 million a year from the Reds.
Once one of the gold standard franchises in the sport, the Reds projected payroll for this upcoming season is just $70.6 million, per Spotrac. Only four teams -- the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles -- are projected to spend less in 2023.
What's scary when considering the Reds is that their 26-man roster payroll is just $48.6 million. Former NL MVP Joey Votto ($25 million) and veteran outfielder Wil Myers ($6 million) have the two highest salaries on the books in 2023. Griffey will make more in 2023 than any player other than those two on the roster currently. So will Mike Moustakas, who is slated to make $22 million in 2023 despite being released by the Reds in January.
Notably, both Votto and Myers have options that will have to be exercised in 2024. Votto is one of the greatest players in franchise history, but there's a good chance that the Reds decline the $20 million option for his 2024 season, instead triggering a $7 million buyout. Myers has a $12 million mutual option for 2024, and it's extremely rare that both parties pick that up. His option comes with a $1.5 million buyout.
Griffey hasn't played for the Reds since they traded him to the Chicago White Sox in July of 2008. But he'll collect $3.59 million one last time from the Reds in 2024. And with Moustakas coming off the books after this season, there's a real possibility that Griffey -- who wore No. 3 for parts of nine seasons in Cincinnati -- will be the third-highest paid player by the Reds in 2024.