Larkin Must Approve Trade To Mets


Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds have worked out a deal that would send Barry Larkin to the New York Mets, if the All-Star shortstop and team captain approves.

It comes down to whether Larkin is interested in finishing this season with the Mets, then heading for free agency.

The Mets are interested in him only as a temporary replacement for Gold Glove shortstop Rey Ordonez, out the rest of the season with a broken arm.

``It's all based on his approval,'' Phillips said. ``We haven't had a chance to talk with him to get his lay of the land here.''

Larkin, a free agent after the season, reiterated Friday that he wants to end his career in his hometown of Cincinnati. He said he would approve a trade only if the Reds make it clear they won't keep him beyond this season.

``If the Reds will not sign me, I'll have to move on,'' he said.

The Mets were waiting for permission from the commissioner's office for a 72-hour window to negotiate with Larkin. Phillips said that could begin as soon as Saturday.

The deadline for making trades without waivers is July 31.

Larkin, who has spent all of his 15 major league seasons with the Reds, has the right to veto any trade. Larkin's agent, Eric Goldschmidt, said Friday evening that he wants to know how he fits in the Mets' plans before reaching a decision.

``We'd have to talk to the team, the general manager, the ownership, to see what they want to do, what their plans are for Barry long-term as well as short-term, then let Barry make the decision,'' Goldschmidt said.

Phillips said it would be difficult for the Mets to offer Larkin an extension.

``We have a shortstop signed for three more years,'' Phillips said, referring to Ordonez. ``Obviously, it would be a complicating factor to sign another shortstop beyond this year.''

If the 72-hour window is provided to talk to Larkin, Phillips said the Mets will ``see if we can't encourage him to join us.''

The Reds told Larkin this week that they would not meet his request for a three-year, $27.9 million extension. General manager Jim Bowden flew to Houston on Thursday to inform Larkin about the trade he had arranged with the Mets.

Larkin said he walked out of the meeting when Bowden wouldn't tell him the players involved.

``The meeting was cool until then,'' Larkin said Friday. ``I won't even tell you the response I got. That's when I left.''

The relationship between the Reds and their team captain has grown testy since the club declined to meet his contract demand, raising the possibility that he'll have to finish his career outside his hometown.

Ken Griffey Jr., who took less than market value to return to his hometown in February, has offered to have a larger percentage of his $116.5 million contract deferred to free up money to keep Larkin.

``Junior's not trying to tell anybody what to do,'' Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, said Friday. ``All he's saying is that should the Reds and Barry compromise to the point where it's a reasonable gap, he'll help bridge the gap by deferring some money further.''

Last December, Griffey blocked a deal that would've sent him from Seattle to the Mets. He wound up being traded to Cincinnati, where he wanted to play.

Larkin said he's willing to defer some money from a new contract, but the club won't consider the possibility. He accepted less than market value to stay in Cincinnati — he makes $5.3 million this year — and wants more than the two-year, $12 million deal offered by the Reds.

``I'm not sitting here telling you I'll play for below market value,'' Larkin said. ``I'm not selling out right now. But there are certain ways to get it done if they want to get it done.''

There were several pro-Larkin banners at Cinergy Field for the start of a three-game homestand Friday, the Reds' first home game since the contract impasse became public. Larkin got a slightly louder ovation than usual when he came to beat in the first inning.

Larkin said he let the pregame talk Thursday in Houston affect his play. Larkin went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in a 6-2 loss to the Astros.

``Yesterday was not me,'' Larkin said. ``I let things bother me and I hadn't done that until yesterday. I wasn't there in spirit and heart. That's never going to happen again. I don't plan on talking to anybody about any trades before a game ever again.''