ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Baseball's winter meetings nearly produced a blockbuster finish late Monday night, but a deal that would have sent Ken Griffey to the New York Mets unraveled when the superstar outfielder refused to play in New York.
It was an odd twist to the most compelling story line of the off-season. Griffey persuaded the Seattle Mariners in October to try to trade him closer to his Orlando, Fla., home, but agent Brian Goldberg recently let it be known his client would accept a trade only to the Cincinnati Reds.
The Mets offered a significant package of talent -- reportedly including former Orioles reliever Armando Benitez, outfielder Roger Cedeno and promising pitcher Octavio Dotel. The deal was struck late Monday, but Griffey exercised his right to veto any trade by virtue of his status as a 10-5 player.
He has been in the majors for 10 years and with the same team for the past five years, so he has the power to overrule any attempt to move him.
"At this point, I don't think he wants to go to the Mets," said Mariners general manager Pat Gillick, "but you're always hopeful something will change."
The Mariners negotiated for weeks with the Reds, but trade talks broke down soon after front-office officials for both clubs arrived at the Anaheim Marriott for baseball's annual trading convention.
Reds general manager Jim Bowden publicly bowed out of the trade talks after making a series of unsuccessful offers, reportedly because of the Mariners' insistence that Gold Glove second baseman Pokey Reese be included in every package.
Though Griffey has tried to remain out of view during the process, he clearly wants to dictate where he will play, which only increases the likelihood that he will open the 2000 season in Seattle. Still, Mets general manager Steve Phillips said he will continue to pursue the deal.
"I'm always willing to leave that door ajar to be revisited," he said.
Gillick also indicated he hoped to persuade Griffey to accept the deal, which might be the Mariners' last chance to get great value for a player who is eligible to become a free agent at the end of next season.
"I think the Mets have a good ballclub and a good situation," Gillick said. "I think it's a nice place to play. You're always hopeful people want to play in a winning situation."
Apparently, Griffey's wish list is a short one. He would love to play next season in Cincinnati, where he grew up and where his father, Ken Griffey Sr., is the hitting coach.
He also might agree to a trade to the National League-champion Atlanta Braves -- who train in the Orlando area -- but they have made it clear they would prefer to wait until he files for free agency next winter to pursue him."
That appears to leave the Mariners with two alternatives. They can drop their asking price and try to rekindle negotiations with the Reds, or open the season with Griffey in Seattle and try to work something out with a contender at midseason.
Don't be surprised if Griffey still is a Mariner on Opening Day, even though that almost certainly would create tension between the All-Star outfielder and the club's front office.
The proposed trade would have been the perfect climax for the winter meetings, which featured several other significant deals -- most notably the four-team trade involving the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
During the five-day meeting, deals were announced involving 34 named players and a number of players to be named at a future date. The Anaheim Marriott also was the site of several free-agent signings.
Of course, there is nothing preventing general managers from continuing trade talks over the phone, though the face-to-face nature of the winter convention clearly had an impact on trading activity.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
1, Orioles traded IF Jeff Reboulet to Royals for player to be named.
2, Red Sox traded OF Damon Buford to Cubs for IF Manny Alexander.
3, Cubs traded P Richard Negrette to Orioles for SS Augie Ojeda.
4, Rockies traded 3B Vinny Castilla to Devil Rays for P Rolando Arrojo and IF Aaron Ledesma. Rockies traded P Justin Miller and cash to Athletics. Athletics traded P Jimmy Haynes to Brewers. Brewers traded 3B Jeff Cirillo, P Scott Karl and cash to Rockies for C Henry Blanco and P Jamey Wright.
5, Tigers traded OF Kimera Bartee to the Reds for a player to be named or cash.
6, Marlins traded P Johan Santana to Twins for P Jared Camp and cash.
7, Dodgers traded P Ismael Valdes and 2B Eric Young to Cubs for P Terry Adams, P Chad Ricketts and player to be named.
8, Mets traded P Chuck McElroy to Orioles for P Jesse Orosco.
9, Yankees traded OF Chad Curtis to Rangers for P Brandon Knight and P Sam Marsonek.
10, Pirates traded P Brad Clontz to Diamondbacks for player to be named.
11, Pirates traded OF Brant Brown to Marlins for OF Bruce Aven.
12, Giants traded P Jerry Spradlin to Royals for player to be named.
13, Giants traded P Chris Brock to Phillies for C Bobby Estalella.
14, Dodgers traded 1B Nicholas Leach to Yankees for P Dan Naulty.
(Major-league free agents who signed major-league contracts only)
1, Devil Rays agreed to terms with OF Greg Vaughn, who had been with Reds, on $34 million, four-year contract.
2, Mets agreed to terms with IF Todd Zeile, who had been with Rangers, on $18 million, three-year contract.
3, Royals signed free-agent C Brian Johnson, who had been with Reds, to one-year contract with club option for 2001.
4, Pirates signed OF Wil Cordero, who had been with Indians, to three-year contract.