The great Griffey chase goes on, at least to Anaheim and the winter meetings, and maybe beyond.
The general managers' meetings ended today with Ken Griffey Jr. remaining the property of the Seattle Mariners, who are attempting to comply with the slugger's wish that he be traded closer to his Orlando home.
Three big trades were made this week, including today's five-player deal sending 1996 AL Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen from Toronto to the St. Louis Cardinals. Otherwise, general managers laid the groundwork for future deals, many of which could come at the winter meetings Dec. 10-14 in Anaheim, Calif.
Three aspects about the Griffey talks became clear here. About three to four teams could be serious players in the sweepstakes. But getting Griffey will cost plenty, and there's a concern about giving up a lot, only to face the prospect of having him leave as a free agent after the 2000 season.
St. Louis Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty said he had dinner one night this week with Mark McGwire, and the subject of the two sluggers playing in the same lineup came up.
"We'd love to have him here, but he [McGwire] also realizes that we have to stay competitive," Jocketty said.
Seattle General Manager Pat Gillick said he had three conversations regarding Griffey today, but they weren't as good as an apparently intriguing offer that the Mariners rejected on Wednesday.
The four teams believed to have the most serious interest are Griffey's hometown Cincinnati Reds, the New York Mets, the Cardinals and the Houston Astros, although the latter two are believed to be on the periphery.
Cincinnati GM Jim Bowden said Wednesday that Seattle would want all the Reds' best players for Griffey, effectively making them noncompetitive after coming within one victory of the playoffs.
But Bowden clearly is intrigued with the prospect of landing Griffey. The Reds made five offers to the Mariners here, all of which were rejected. The Reds, who rebuffed three Seattle offers, did not speak with the Mariners today.
So where do the Mariners go from here? "I just think we have to be patient--let the things kind of churn," Gillick said.
Toronto, meanwhile, made its second big deal in four days, sending Hentgen and left-handed reliever Paul Spoljaric to the Cardinals for left-hander Lance Painter, catcher Alberto Castillo and minor league pitcher Matt DeWitt.
The Blue Jays, who traded Shawn Green and a minor league infielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Raul Mondesi and reliever Pedro Borbon on Monday, might not be through. David Wells and Carlos Delgado have been mentioned in trade rumors, although Toronto GM Gord Ash shot down a scenario that had them going to the Mets.
"This is more of a baseball trade than a financial trade," Ash said. "It sets us up well if we're going to make some future deals here in the next couple of weeks."
Note: The Baltimore Orioles and designated hitter Derrick May agreed to a $300,000, one-year deal. May batted .265 in 26 games with the Orioles last season.