Griffey, Cabrera likely to move on
Money, needs will play role in whether vets return to White Sox
CHICAGO -- Orlando Cabrera and Ken Griffey Jr. just might have played their last games as part of the White Sox in Monday's finale of the American League Division Series loss to the Rays.
Then again, both veterans left the door open for a return in 2009 and beyond.
"Yeah, I want to play next year," said Griffey, who completed his 20th season in the Majors. "Would I like to come back [to the White Sox]? Yes. But we'll see what happens in 2009."
Most likely, neither player figures into the White Sox plans, though for different reasons. Cabrera earned $9 million in 2008 at the end of a four-year, $32 million deal and certainly will test the free-agent market. The White Sox probably will move Alexei Ramirez to shortstop, with rising Minor Leaguer Chris Getz or a veteran stopgap moving to second.
Cabrera had an uneven season, more so away from the on-field action. He came to the White Sox through an offseason trade with the Angels, holding the leader moniker as he entered Spring Training. That characterization didn't exactly play out, with trouble starting early on. For example, Cabrera called the pressbox to get two errors charged to him changed to hits.
To Cabrera's credit, he did hit .281, scored 93 runs and played in all but one game. He also did an admirable job anchoring the leadoff spot, a lineup slot he previously wasn't used to having.
The off-the-field issues also included Cabrera calling out his teammates to MLB.com during the regular season's second-to-last weekend, after the team lost to the Royals. Cabrera said he didn't see the fire in his team once it fell behind and termed the effort in the loss to Kansas City as pathetic. They were words that might have been true, but didn't sit well with his teammates.
When asked about the situation after Monday's loss, Cabrera expressed no regrets.
"I wouldn't change one thing -- not anything the whole year," Cabrera said. "Everything worked out, and I enjoyed myself. I saw a lot of things I haven't seen before, with the way they carried the team and they were so relaxed and enjoyed themselves. It was a new experience for me, but I liked it in a positive way."
Griffey has a $16 million club option for 2009, but the White Sox already have agreed to split the $4 million buyout with the Reds. With Jim Thome back at designated hitter and the White Sox looking for a speed upgrade, it's unlikely Griffey will be brought back -- even a smaller sum -- to play center.
If Monday was the end, though, Griffey, much like Cabrera, wouldn't change a thing about his nine-week stay with the White Sox.
"I had a blast," said Griffey, who hit .260 with three home runs and 18 RBIs with Chicago. "The city, the fans, I had one of the greatest times I had as a pro athlete in the last two months."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.