Ken Griffey Jr. will file for free agency early next week, opening the door to his possible return to the Mariners. Contacted at his home late Friday night, where he was hosting a Halloween party, Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, said Griffey would be "open-minded" about returning to the team that made him the first overall pick in the 1987 First-Year Player Draft, a selection that helped turn the franchise into a perennial playoff contender in the 1990s. Griffey, who spent the first 11 seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Mariners before being traded to the Reds, had an option year remaining on the nine-year contract he signed with Cincinnati prior to the 2000 season. But the White Sox, who acquired Junior late last season, declined the $16.5 million option.
Griffey will be 39 years old on Nov. 21 and has said he wants to end his career where it started -- with the Mariners. "Junior has always had a special relationship with the people in Seattle, including the fans and people still in the organization when he left," Goldberg said. "He would be open to going back." New Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, who is in Dana Point, Calif., for next week's General Managers Meetings, said Saturday, "I will not comment on any free agent." Griffey made a triumphant return to Seattle during the 2007 season, when the Reds visited Safeco Field for an Interleague series against the Mariners. Junior hit two home runs in the finale, was cheered wildly every time he came to bat and said after the series that he missed Seattle more than he ever could have imagined. It has been nine years since he left and he still ranks first or second in 10 of the franchise's career offensive categories. He ranks first in home runs with 398. The off-injured Griffey recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a partially torn meniscus and cartilage, but he is expected to be completely recovered prior to Spring Training. "Junior won't be hitting 56 home runs again," Goldberg said. "But he could get back to his form in '07 and hit 30 home runs."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.