Print and Go Back Baseball [Print without images]

Friday, January 28, 2000
Updated: February 2, 2:21 PM ET
Bowden says Griffey talks at standstill news services

CINCINNATI -- If Ken Griffey Jr. is traded to his hometown team, he'd like the deal to happen before the start of spring training, his agent said Tuesday.

However, agent Brian Goldberg said Griffey is not pressing Seattle to trade him, and Reds general manager Jim Bowden said talks with the Mariners remain at a standstill.

Ken Griffey Jr.
Center Field
Seattle  Mariners
160 48134 .285.384 .576

The Reds broke off discussions Dec. 11 at baseball's winter meetings because the Mariners insisted on a package of players including Gold Glove second baseman Pokey Reese.

Bowden spoke with Mariners general manager Pat Gillick last Friday to see if Seattle's position had changed from December. He said the Mariners had not budged and the teams were at the same impasse.

Bowden denied a report in Tuesday's New York Daily News saying trade talks had intensified, and that Griffey could be traded by the end of the week.

"We have not talked since Friday," Bowden said. "We've made no progress since Dec. 11. There's nothing new to report."

Neither Mariners president Chuck Armstrong nor Gillick returned phone messages Tuesday.

The Daily News said Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln has instructed Gillick to trade Griffey, but Gillick told the Seattle Times, "That's not true."

The Times also reported that opinion is divided in the Mariners front office, but Lincoln is believed to be willing to trade Griffey.

"As far as the timing of the deal, it's impossible to say," Gillick said. "As far as the names go, those names are not unfamiliar to us, but I can rattle off 10 to 12 names to you that have come up in our talks."

The newspaper also quoted unidentified sources as saying that Griffey was "putting the pressure on" the Mariners to trade him before spring training begins. Goldberg denied it.

"There's no pressure or anything like that," Goldberg said. "I have to reiterate that if it doesn't happen, that's fine with Kenny. No one is pushing the Mariners to do this. If something happens, it would be best to do it before it disrupts too many lives."

Goldberg said Griffey would like to take care of family and business matters before spring training starts in mid-February.

The Times also reported that a source outside the Mariners said the Reds had insisted Gillick and the Mariners deny trade talks had resumed as a condition of the negotiations.

Most reports speculate the Reds would include center fielder Mike Cameron as part of the deal, but the Mariners may not be sold on the slick fielder, who hit .256 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, 80 walks and 38 steals last season.

Seattle may have contacted Anaheim about center fielder Jim Edmonds, and the Daily News mentioned Montreal's Rondell White as a possibility.

Reds manager Jack McKeon agrees that any deal should be completed before spring training so the trade talk doesn't disrupt the clubhouse.

Griffey turned down an $148 million, eight-year offer last summer, saying he wanted to play closer to his home in Florida. He'll make $8.5 million this season, then be eligible for free agency.

Griffey rejected a proposed trade to the New York Mets in December, saying he would only approve a deal with the Reds. He grew up in Cincinnati and his father is a Reds coach.

Bowden broke off negotiations on Dec. 11 because the Mariners insisted on getting Reese, but revived the trade effort last week. He said Seattle's position hadn't changed and he was unwilling to trade Reese, Cameron or minor-league shortstop Travis Dawkins.

Any trade would involve a number of Reds minor-league prospects.

"I don't mind giving up one quality guy, but let's limit it to one quality guy and some extra players," Bowden said.

The Daily News reported that the Mariners were interested in reliever Scott Williamson, the NL Rookie of the Year, who would be the key to the deal. Williamson was 12-7 with 19 saves for the Reds last season.

Also mentioned were Reds minor-league prospects Antonio Perez, a second baseman who hit .288 with 35 stolen bases, and outfielder Adam Dunn, who batted .307 last season. Both played at Class A Rockford.

The Mariners would have to include some money to cover part of Griffey's $8.25 million salary. The Reds' payroll will be around $40 million this season, and they don't want to add to it significantly.

If the Reds can't trade for Griffey, they will try to sign him as a free agent after the season, Bowden said.