Was Griffey pushed into retirement?

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Griffey on shoulders.jpgLast month Larry LaRue famously reported that the Mariners were either hoping or actually trying to get Ken Griffey to retire. People freaked out about that, mostly because of the sleeping-in-the-clubhouse stuff, but also over the mere suggestion that Ken Griffey Jr. should leave the game before he was good and ready to.

Ken Rosenthal thinks that, public sentiment notwithstanding, Griffey was pushed, reporting that Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu spoke in private with Griffey recently in an effort to persuade him to call it a career.

Wakamatsu said “this was Ken’s decision” and that he “would honor Ken and his career and never even
approach that.”  He would not, however, comment on the matter of the conversations, saying “I won’t be quoted talking about any private conversation I had with a
player.”

Rosenthal also notes that Griffey’s statement yesterday — “nobody in the Mariners’ front office has asked me to retire” — conspicuously omits Wakamatsu from the equation.  Did he ask Griffey to retire?

Given that no one is going to publicly rain on Griffey’s retirement parade now, this is probably one of those unknowable things. At least until someone writes a biography of Griffey, at which point it will only be a footnote.

Still, it’s sad to me that Griffey’s career is ending on such an ignominious note.  Last year, at the end of the season Griffey left to the cheers of the fans while riding on his teammates’ shoulders.  Too bad that, and not these awful past two months, wasn’t the final chapter.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.