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Reds’ Larkin Looking for Extension

February 29, 2000

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Now that the Cincinnati Reds might be competitive again, shortstop Barry Larkin is looking for a contract extension that will keep him around.

Agent Eric Goldschmidt arrived at the Reds’ training complex Tuesday to begin talks on a deal for Larkin, who could become a free agent after the season.

``I’m comfortable and confident that it will work out,″ Larkin said Monday. ``I don’t feel any other way.″

Larkin, the team’s captain, turns 36 on April 28. He played in a career-high 161 games last season and hit .293 with 12 homers, 75 RBIs and 30 steals.

He has spent his entire career with Cincinnati. Larkin attended Moeller High School and set home run records that would later be broken by Ken Griffey Jr., acquired by the Reds from Seattle on Feb. 10.

``I’ve always felt that Barry Larkin should finish his career as a Red,″ general manager Jim Bowden said. ``He is to Cincinnati what George Brett is to Kansas City, Carl Yastrzemski is to Boston, Tony Gwynn is to San Diego.″

Larkin accepted far less than market value to stay with Cincinnati in 1996, agreeing to a $16.5 million, three-year extension. When an option year for 2000 became guaranteed, the value of the deal increased to $21.2 million for four years.

Larkin will make $5.3 million this season, third-highest on the roster behind Griffey ($7 million plus $5.5 million in deferred payments) and Dante Bichette ($6.5 million).

Griffey also took far less than market value to play for the Reds, agreeing to a $116.5 million, nine-year contract.

``I’d love to stay here,″ Larkin said. ``I want to be on a competitive team, and the commitment is there. They just have to work it out financially, recognizing the restrictions that you have in Cincinnati. If you structure these things creatively, there are a lot of things you can do.″

Nearly half of Griffey’s contract is deferred, $57.7 million, a concession he made so the Reds could afford him.

When the Reds were rebuilding two years ago, Goldschmidt asked the Reds to look into trading Larkin to a contending team. Larkin would like to stay in Cincinnati, but his overriding desire is to play for a winner.

When the Reds got Greg Vaughn in a trade with San Diego and then won 96 games last season, Larkin ended the trade talk and said he would like to stay.

``I’d be interested in seeing how much money would be available if I were a free agent, but it’s really about being comfortable,″ he said. ``If it was about the money, I would have been gone a long time ago.″

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