The Reds are finally done paying Ken Griffey Jr.'s endless contract

Cincinnati just got rid of a financial obligation that was decades in the making.

Reds Ken Griffey, Jr.
Reds Ken Griffey, Jr. / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

For most casual baseball fans, July 1st is known as "Bobby Bonilla Day," as the Mets made the ill-advised decision to defer so much of Bonilla's contract that he is getting paid around $1.2 million every July 1 through 2035, even though he last played in a baseball game in 2001. However, Bonilla isn't the only player still getting paid long after he retired, and the Cincinnati Reds just made their last payment on one such deal with one of the best players to ever play the game.

Ken Griffey Jr. was, without question, one of the best players of any generation to ever take the field. During his time with the Reds, he was a three-time All-Star and hit 210 homers, but that was actually only a small slice of a Hall of Fame career where injuries were the only thing that kept him from claiming the all-time home run king crown.

While Bonilla's contract gets the headlines, the Reds' deal with Griffey Jr. also had deferred money --and a lot of it. Despite retiring after the 2010 season, Cincinnati has had to pay Junior almost $3.6 million every July 1st from 2009 through 2024. With the Reds officially making their last payment to Griffey Jr. this week, Cincinnati finally gets to shake him out of their books.

Reds' final payment to Griffey Jr. finally puts an end to payroll jokes

With Griffey Jr.'s deal officially done, Reds fans will hopefully not have to endure anymore jokes about him being one of their most highly paid players. Don't get us wrong: Griffey Jr. played well for the Reds after they traded for him way back in 2000, and his career resume is beyond reproach. However, some Reds fans do feel a bit robbed in the sense that Griffey's injuries kept him from being his best self in Cincinnati, and it gets old hearing about the team's lack of a payroll through a Griffey-tinted lens.

While some fans think that getting Griffey Jr.'s money off the books finally will change the team's spending habits, they may not want to get their hopes up. The Reds' revenue situation remains largely unchanged, and with young studs like Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, and Matt McLain in line to start getting paid real money in the coming years, it is unlikely that Griffey's relatively low payments each year changed much about the team's decision calculus when it comes to payroll.

Still, it is nice that the Reds are no longer on the Bonilla list of shame that gets rolled out each July.

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