Cincinnati — 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," Mets general manager Steve 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.
"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 today. 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. Agent Eric Goldschmidt said Larkin 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.
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.
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 it. 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.