This morning on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio, co-hosts and former GMs Steve Phillips and Jim Bowden discussed their failed trade from July 2000, that would have sent Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin to the Mets.
According to Phillips and Bowden, who was GM of the Reds at the time, the deal would have sent then-elite OF prospect Alex Escobar to Cincinnati with Larkin joining the Mets, who would eventually play the Yankees in the World Series a few months later.
"It was very close, and it would have gotten done," Phillips said, noting that Larkin first had to agree to waive his complete no-trade clause.
According to Phillips, he talked and negotiated with Larkin about approving the deal during a 72-hour window granted to him by Bowden and the Reds.
However, Phillips explained, "During my 72-hour window to negotiate, Jim negotiated a contract extension with Larkin to keep him there and he ended up telling us, 'No,' he wasn't coming to New York. And I was like, 'Hey, Jim, this is my 72-hour window, not yours.'"
According to Bowden, this is not 100 percent accurate...
Bowden told Larkin in mid-July that he was not interested in giving him a a three-year contract extension because the shortstop was about to be a free agent and becoming a player in decline. At the same time, Larkin told Bowden he would prefer to be traded and play for a winning team than sign a one-year deal to return to Cincinnati. Bowden then called Phillips and the two worked out a deal.
May 10, 1991; Larkin against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Credit: USA TODAY Sports 1991
However, unbeknownst to Bowden, who was waiting on word from the Phillies and away from the team, Reds owner Carl Lindner made a unilateral decision to sign Larkin to a three-year, $27 million contract, which is the exact deal Larkin previously asked for and Bowden did not want to give him.
"I think Barry really wanted to just finish his career in Cincinnati, where it started,' Bowden added. "I think he liked the idea of joining a pennant race, because that was important too. But, at the end of the day, he wanted to play a few more seasons and go in to the Hall of Fame with one team and Lindor made that happen for him."
In a continued effort to replace Rey Ordonez, whose season ended due to injury in late May, Phillips traded infielder Melvin Mora and three prospects to the Orioles for SS Mike Bordick.
Oct 21, 2000; Mike Bordick throws to first base during the World Series. Credit: THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY
The Mets were 58-44 when Bordick joined their infield. He hit .260 with a .321 OBP, four HR and 21 RBI in 56 games. He hit just .155 during the postseason that year and was unable to play the final game of the World Series due to a bruised right thumb.
Meanwhile, Larkin hit .280 with a .390 OBP and six extra-base hits in the 22 games he played after rejecting the trade and signing his three-year deal.
"Ugh, man, that would have been huge for us, huge for us," Phillips lamented while laughing, before throwing his show with Bowden to commercial.