Will this be Ken Griffey Jr.'s final season?

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Mariners beat reporter Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times expects Ken Griffey Jr. to retire after this season, writing:

Yes, I think this is Griffey’s final month. I think the team hopes so and I do think he is coming to realize it as well, even though, I’m sure, he’s going to miss the day-to-day reality of life in the big leagues. Well, he’ll miss some of it, anyway. He won’t miss what he went through yesterday, having an MRI done on a swollen knee.
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Some fans had envisioned Griffey playing the field this year. Well, they were wrong. As the Mariners found out very early, playing Griffey in the field was a recipe for health disaster because his knees couldn’t take it. Now, he’s struggling to even fill the DH role on a daily basis. It’s time.

Griffey has been able to play just 83 innings in the outfield and he’s hit just .221/.329/.399 in 377 plate appearances for a .728 OPS that ranks third-worst among AL first baseman, corner outfielders, and designated hitters ahead of only Aubrey Huff (.703) and Mike Jacobs (.705).
On the other hand, I’d never criticize or mock great players for wanting to stick around after they’re no longer great, and Griffey still has some power with 14 homers and 15 doubles in 321 at-bats. If he wants to play another season as a part-time DH and maybe try to make a run at 650 career homers, then why not?
However, as Baker notes there’s little chance of the Mariners welcoming him back for 2010. Griffey was a good fit this season, as the new regime wanted to clean up the mess of 2008 and create some good will among fans in the process, but the Mariners will be far more focused on contending next season and can easily upgrade the DH spot.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.