Braves players covet Griffey, Glavine
Atlanta would welcome Hall of Fame duo with open arms
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves pitchers and catchers prepared for their first Spring Training workout on Sunday morning, many of them wanted to know when Tom Glavine and Ken Griffey Jr. might be joining them.
While it still appears Glavine could reach an agreement within the next week, one baseball source said that it's currently too early to assume that Griffey will definitely sign with the Braves.
Still, all indications are that Griffey has certainly made his way to the top of the list of candidates to fill Braves general manager Frank Wren's need for an outfielder.
Griffey could provide more clarity about his future and reach a decision as early as Monday, when he returns to his Orlando-area home, which is located approximately 20 minutes from the Braves' Spring Training complex.
The 39-year-old free-agent outfielder, who has also been recently courted by the Mariners, spent this weekend in California, competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am.
"He's still got something left in the tank," Chipper Jones said of Griffey. "There's no doubt in my mind. When a guy has a swing like that, he can get out of bed and hit."
While it's seemingly certain that both Glavine and Griffey will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown, there are currently plenty of questions about their abilities to continue performing as productive Major Leaguers.
Glavine is approaching his 43rd birthday and attempting to return from a surgical procedure that repaired both his left elbow and left shoulder. Griffey's right knee was surgically repaired during the offseason and he's coming off a season during which he hit .249 with a .424 slugging percentage -- his lowest mark since his 1989 rookie season.
"These guys can play," Braves right-hander Derek Lowe said. "They're Hall of Fame players. ... When you're at that level, maybe the top one percent to ever play the game, they know how to play the game. So they're going to figure it out as far as what adjustments they have to make. I think all they would do is help our team win and get our team back to the playoffs."
To sign Glavine, the Braves will likely have to provide a guaranteed $1 million contract with an incentive package worth approximately $3 million to $4 million. The 305-game winner is comfortable with the fact that all but about $1 million would likely be deferred for up to five years.
Glavine said Sunday that he felt the negotiations were still moving in the right direction and Braves manager Bobby Cox provide further indication that this signing might be imminent by pointing out that the veteran hurler could certainly be ready to pitch by April 19, which is when Atlanta will first utilize its fifth starter.
It's believed the Braves are willing to offer Griffey a one-year deal worth up to $1.5 million. The veteran outfielder has long expressed a desire to play for Cox and he's geographically intrigued by the fact that Atlanta is just a one-hour flight from his family's Orlando residence.
"I think they have interest in us," said Cox, who has memories of the dominance Griffey displayed while playing for Cincinnati Moeller High School.
While serving as the Braves general manager in 1987, Cox traveled to Cincinnati just to get a glimpse of Griffey.
"We had no chance to get him," Cox said. "I just wanted to see what the best player in the nation looks like, and he was the best player in the nation."
Father Time has erased some of the skills that allowed Griffey to arguably become one of his generation's greatest players. He batted .249 with 18 homers and a .424 slugging percentage in 490 combined at-bats with the Reds and White Sox last season.
But the Braves would plan to utilize him in a left-field platoon with the right-handed-hitting Matt Diaz, and this could certainly enhance the damage Griffey could produce with his picturesque left-handed stroke.
Against right-handed pitchers this past season, Griffey batted .272 with 14 homers and an .841 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Over the course of the past four seasons, Griffey has hit .291 with a .908 OPS against right-handed pitchers and .231 with a .740 OPS against left-handed pitchers.
"He's got a knack for being able to turn it up and prove people wrong," Jones said. "Having talked to him for a few years, I know that he's always wanted to play here, and now he's got an opportunity."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.