To add to the transaction above, please keep in mind that Greg Vaughn was granted free agency on October 28, 1999, and signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on December 13, 1999.
Then read this detailed timeline of the Griffey trade, which includes the initial list of players requested by the Mariners.
The Reds had come within one game of the postseason in 1999, losing the one game playoff with the Mets for the wildcard spot in the league divisional series. Vaughn had been the team inspirational leader and home run king with 45 home runs, but the Reds had already been in a cost cutting mode for several years and 1999 trade acquisitions Vaughn and starting pitcher Juan Guzman both filed for free agency. Based on the transaction information, and the Griffey timeline, Vaughn files for free agency on October 28, and within a week Griffey announces that he wants to be traded. Vaughn’s contract with the Devil Rays is announced during the winter meetings where the Reds and Mariners are negotiating their trade in earnest.
In the meantime, the Reds had traded for another slugging outfielder, Dante Bichette, who was coming off a season where he batted .298 with 34 home runs and 133 rbi for the Colorado Rockies. A four-time all-star, Bichette’s best season had been 1995 when he led the league with 40 homers and 128 rbi and a .620 slugging percentage and had collected 219 hits in 1998. He had hit 30 or more homers in three of the previous five seasons with the Rockies. The Reds received Bichette in exchange for relief pitcher Stan Belinda and outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds. This trade was completed the day after Vaughn filed for free agency.
In essence, Bichette replaced Greg Vaughn in the Reds lineup as the team’s power hitter and run producer while the Reds were pursuing Griffey. As Great American Ballpark was being designed, it was said the design was to help Griffey break Hank Aaron’s career home run record with a relatively short right field fence. The trade for Griffey cost the Reds their 1999 centerfielder Mike Cameron, who had played well in the field for the Reds in 1999 while batting .256 with 21 home runs and an .825 OPS. Cameron had been acquired from the White Sox for Paul Konerko the year before. Reds manager Jack McKeon had trumpeted the Cameron deal for he felt the outfield defense had been terrible in 1998.
Ken Griffey, Jr, was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He had slugged 398 home runs in 11 seasons with the Mariners before coming to the Reds in 2000, had won 10 Gold Gloves, appeared in 10 all-star games, won one MVP award, and finished in the top five in MVP balloting five times. He had led the American League in home runs four times, in rbi once, and slugging percentage once. And, he had dictated his trade to the Reds, where the deal seemed like a steal.
The Reds had to give up Cameron and starting pitcher Brett Tomko. Tomko was a Cincinnati Red rarity, a starting pitcher developed in the Reds’ system. Tomko had won 31 games with the Reds in three years, but was in a constant battle with manager McKeon, who questioned Tomko’s work ethic and desire. Tomko won 10 games for the Mariners in two seasons before moving to the Padres. He’s still active in his 13th major league season having won 96 games in his career.
Antonio Perez was a top infield prospect for the Reds who was later caught up in the Dominican Republic “age-gate” scandal. Perez never played for the Mariners, but was dealt to the Devil Rays. He had played 216 major league games through 2006. He batted .102 in his last season with the Athletics (109 plate appearances). Jake Meyer was a career minor league pitcher who pitched for 10 minor league seasons through 2006, but won only 19 minor league games, mainly as a reliever.
Cameron is still active as a very good centerfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 15 major league seasons, he has played for six different teams and has a career .250 batting average, 256 home runs, and has won three Gold Gloves. He is a strike out machine, having struck out in nearly 25% of his plate appearances, but does sport a lifetime OPS of .789.
In Griffey’s first year with the Reds he batted .271 with 40 homers and 118 rbi, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Reds as they finished second to the Cardinals, 10 games behind. Out of the mountain air brought Bichette down to sea level reality, as the home run totals lowered to 16 for the Reds but witha fine .295 batting average before being traded to the Red Sox in August. The second place finished cost manager Jack McKeon his job and led to the hiring of Bob Boone as Reds manager. That didn’t help either as the Reds fell to fifth in 2000, and have not had a winning record since that time. Griffey began a series of debilitating injuries that cost him several hundred games during his time with Cincinnati; he never played more than the 145 he played in his first season with the Reds.
Griffey had taken a “hometown” discount when he signed a multi-year contract with the Reds. The value of the contract seemed to escalate as injuries took their toll and limited Griffey’s time on the field. Griffey also voluntarily restructured his contract to give the Reds budget room to improve their team with additional players. Griffey played nine seasons with the Reds, batting .270 with 210 home runs. He hit his 600th career home run while with the Reds franchise. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox late in the 2008 season and is still active today back with the Mariners. The Reds received reliever Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar in the trade.