The Seattle Mariners have stepped up the pace in negotiations that could bring Ken Griffey Jr. back to the city where he spent the first 11 years of his major league career, two baseball sources told ESPN.com.
Although it's unclear whether the Mariners have extended a formal offer, two sources said the team made significant progress this week in talks to bring back Griffey. Several reports this winter have indicated that Griffey is seeking a one-year deal for a base salary in the $5 million range.
The list of available left-handed hitting outfielders on the market grew less cluttered Wednesday when Bobby Abreu agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels, and Adam Dunn signed on for two years and $20 million with the Washington Nationals.
Seattle, which currently has an outfield alignment of Ichiro Suzuki in right field, Franklin Gutierrez in center and Endy Chavez in left, had been looking at Garret Anderson and Abreu as potential free agent options, but now it appears the focus is on Griffey -- who broke in with Seattle in 1989 at age 19 and made 10 straight All-Star teams with the Mariners during the 1990s. Seattle also could have at-bats available at first base and designated hitter.
The Mariners traded Griffey to Cincinnati in February 2000 for Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko and two other players, and Griffey never attained the same level of success during an injury-plagued tenure with the Reds.
Cincinnati sent him to the White Sox in a deadline deal in July, and while Griffey got a chance to play in the American League Division Series, he hit only three homers in 131 regular-season at-bats with Chicago.
Griffey, fifth on baseball's career list with 611 home runs, hit only 18 homers in 490 at-bats in 2008. But his production was limited by a sore left knee that had to be drained three times and required arthroscopic surgery in the offseason.
Griffey is spending this week in California, where he's taking part in the AT&T pro-am golf tournament. Seattle's pitchers and catchers have their first spring training workout Saturday in Peoria, Ariz.
Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.