The Rays and the Mariners are among five teams that have shown interest in signing Ken Griffey Jr., according to a report by SI.com. Griffey's longtime agent, Brian Goldberg, told the Web site that three American League teams and two National League teams have expressed some level of interest in the future Hall of Famer. The Rays and the Mariners are the two teams that have already been publicly linked to Griffey. The Rays are likely appealing to Griffey because Tampa Bay plays less than two hours from his Orlando home. The Rays have been looking to add at least one hitter to their roster, although it's uncertain just how high Griffey ranks on their list in a free-agent market that's still loaded with big bats.
While the Rays would offer Griffey the ability to stay close to home, the Mariners could provide him with the chance to return to the place where his career began. Griffey has indicated in the past that he'd like to finish his career in Seattle. But this past season he approved a trade from the Reds to the White Sox for the opportunity to win a World Series championship. Unlike the Rays, who after reaching the Series in 2008 are expected to be a contender again in '09, the Mariners are currently rebuilding and likely wouldn't provide Griffey with that chance for a title. Griffey batted .249 with 18 home runs and 71 RBIs in 143 games for the Reds and White Sox this past season. He was hampered by a left knee injury that he suffered early in the season and then had surgically repaired three days after the season ended. Goldberg said in the SI.com report that Griffey had his left knee drained three times in 2008. That knee issue might have hurt his power numbers, as Griffey hit just three homers after being traded to Chicago.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.