In a surprise move near the trading deadline, the Cincinnati Reds traded Ken Griffey Jr. to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitcher Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar.
The two teams will split the remaining portion of Griffey's salary this year, along with the $4 million buyout next year. The deal is pending the commissioner's approval, which should come shortly.
From Cincinatti's perspective, the move is a salary dump, plain and simple. By getting rid of Griffey and unloading half of their remaining financial commitment to him, they save about $4 million.
Masset could be a decent reliever in the back end of the bullpen, but he lacks a true out-pitch and struggles with his command. Danny Richar can serve as a utility infielder, but he lacks the power and discipline to play every day. Neither player is a particularly outstanding commodity, but they may be relatively cost-effective for the next couple years.
For the White Sox, the move upgrades their offense. Paul Konerko's struggles (.661 OPS) have persisted, so anything they get from Griffey (.787 OPS) would be an upgrade. However, Griffey now lacks the bat speed to hit good fastballs; he may struggle with some of the power pitching in the American League. Also, he is a defensive liability. The White Sox will have a subpar defensive outfield, costing them runs on balls hit into the gaps.
This is a risk for the White Sox. Their outfield's defense is already a liability, and while the team ranks eighth in runs scored overall, their true strength is run prevention. The overall gain might be an additional win this season.
For the Reds, there is no real risk. They were not going to contend this year, so unloading the money for two potentially useful parts makes sense.