Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin could have been part of 2000 New York Mets

Via New York Post’s Dan Martin:

Barry Larkin has no regrets about never joining the Mets.

The shortstop, elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday, was on the verge of going to the Mets in July 2000, but rejected the move when then-general manager Steve Phillips decided not to give him the three-year contract he wanted.

“I certainly am happy that I didn’t accept that trade,” Larkin said at a press conference at the Waldorf yesterday of the swap that would have included former Mets prospect and future bust Alex Escobar.

Instead, Larkin wound up getting the three-year deal he wanted from the Reds, and the Mets were left to use Mike Bordick and Kurt Abbott at shortstop in their five-game World Series loss to the Yankees.

“We were ready to come to New York,” Larkin said, a 12-time All-Star who won a World Series with the Reds in 1990. “Being in Cincinnati for so long, I didn’t want to go to another organization as a potential rental player and play half a season.”

Larkin mentioned that Jose Reyes would eventually take over the position, but Reyes didn’t become the Mets’ full-time shortstop until 2005.

Still, Larkin likely would have helped in the postseason that year, because the Mets were without Rey Ordonez, who went down with a broken arm. Bordick and Abbott combined to go 3-for-16 in the Series.

“When they wouldn’t give me that commitment, that’s when it fell apart,” said Larkin, the 1995 NL MVP. “That’s what I was looking for in Cincinnati, three more years.”

At the time, Larkin said he was told by Reds management they were not interested in giving him a long-term deal.

“I was told I was not coming back to Cincinnati,” Larkin said. “I wanted to know if I would be there for a while.”

But team owner Carl Lindner had a change of heart.

“He said ‘The natives have spoken,’ ” Larkin said. “The fans really wanted me to stay, so that’s what happened.”

The Mets likely didn’t have too many second thoughts about not giving him the three extra seasons, because Larkin’s best years turned out to be behind him.

Although Larkin played until 2004, he never again reached the production of the seasons that propelled him to Cooperstown, where he will be inducted in June along with former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo.

After reading this I realized that the Mets could have won a World Series in 2000 against the Yankees. The one position the Mets lacked that season was shortstop both defensively and offensively when Rey Ordonez went down with an injury. Could you imagine how different the team would have been? Could you imagine the success the team could have brought in? But on the other hand, I am glad he stayed on the Reds his entire career. It makes him the good guy and not the bad guy who was out for the money but for the love of the Cincinnati Reds. I am glad he is a Hall of Famer and a Red for life, but I couldn’t help but think what could it have been like. Only Steve Phillips would not make a deal that could impact the future of the Mets. Oh what it could meant for a young Mets fan…

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