Work in Sports
Not dead yet
Reds still interested in Griffey deal
Posted: Saturday January 29, 2000 12:27 AM
Bowden said Friday evening that there's been no progress in his discussions with the Seattle Mariners about Griffey, who grew up in Cincinnati and will accept a trade only if it's to the Reds.
Bowden temporarily broke off talks last December, saying the Mariners were asking too much.
"The situation hasn't changed," Bowden said, before the start of team's annual Redsfest fan festival. "There's not a player I'd rather trade for in baseball, but I don't want to give up our whole young nucleus for one player who may leave after one year. It just does not make sense.
"Who knows? Maybe the price changes at some point between now and opening day, so you always leave the door open, or at least cracked."
Bowden appeared to close the door on a deal Dec. 11 at baseball's winter meetings, saying the Mariners wanted too much. Griffey later blocked a deal with the New York Mets, saying he would approve only a trade to Cincinnati.
Bowden spoke with Mariners general manager Pat Gillick on Friday afternoon and found he had not budged.
"I'm going to continue to have dialogue because you never know when people change their positions. But at this point, nothing's changed," Bowden said.
The Reds are on target for an opening day payroll of around $40 million, up from $33.2 million on opening day last year. Griffey will make $8.5 million in the final year of his contract.
Money is a factor in the Griffey talks. When the Reds got Dante Bichette from Colorado last October for two players, they had the Rockies include $1.9 million to make up the salary difference. "People know when they do deals with us, they're going to have to pay," Bowden said. "We can't afford it. We're a small-market team. I'm open [to suggestions].
"I never want to box myself in and say, 'You can't.' Every time people say you can't, that's usually when I want to do it even more."
Unlike last December, when Bowden said there was "zero" chance of getting Griffey, he's holding out hope the Mariners will lower their demands at some point.
"I'll never have a cutoff point to making a deal in my life," Bowden said. "If we can get better, we're going to make a deal. I don't like timetables."
Manager Jack McKeon wondered Friday whether his players would be affected if the trade talks continue into spring training.
"Let's face it. Who would not like to pencil Ken Griffey in the lineup?" McKeon said. "There's no question about that. But if we're going to do it, let's do it. If we're not, let's get it out of the way. You can't go to spring training with the constant distraction of guys that the press has mentioned [in trade talks]."
The Griffey trade talks dominated a question-and-answer session with fans, which started with Bowden asking what they thought the Reds should give up to get him.
There was applause when Bowden said he would not trade Gold Glove second baseman Pokey Reese for Griffey. The trade talks reached a temporary dead end last December because Seattle demanded Reese.
Bowden also said he would not include minor league shortstop Travis Dawkins in a trade.
"Our goal is to try to have them all," Bowden said. "It's not to subtract from our long-term plans. If we can get Ken Griffey, that's what we want to do. If we have to wait a year [and sign him as a free agent], we'll wait a year."