CINCINNATI -- The Reds are cutting ties with their team captain.
Shortstop Barry Larkin rejected a one-year contract offer on Monday, leaving one of Cincinnati's most revered players to finish his career somewhere else.
Larkin, 39, has spent all 18 major league seasons with his hometown team, and hoped to return as a backup infielder next year before retiring and moving into another role with the Reds.
His 18 seasons with Cincinnati are the most that any current major leaguer has spent with one team.
"It's tough to say goodbye to Barry Larkin," chief operating officer John Allen said. "It's really hard. He's meant a lot to this organization."
Their inability to reach a deal was the latest disappointment in one of the franchise's worst seasons. The Reds moved into Great American Ball Park aiming for the playoffs, but are finishing the season fighting to stay out of last place.
Larkin's $27 million, three-year contract ends after this season. The Reds offered a one-year deal with a $500,000 base salary, plus incentives that could have doubled his pay.
Larkin turned it down, and owner Carl Lindner declined to increase the amount after talking with the shortstop by phone on Monday.
"I don't know how you describe a contract like that to a player like Barry, but it's extremely disappointing," agent Eric Goldschmidt said. "All Barry was looking for was something respectable and fair."
Larkin didn't attend a news conference Monday night. Allen said the club won't improve the offer to Larkin, who grew up in Cincinnati and was the Reds' first-round pick in the 1985 amateur draft.
"Barry Larkin for many years was the heart and soul of this team," Allen said.
Larkin helped the Reds win a World Series in 1990, earned NL Most Valuable Player honors in 1995 and was a steadying influence in the clubhouse during former owner Marge Schott's suspensions in the 1990s.
Former general manager Jim Bowden said repeatedly that he wanted Larkin to spend his entire career with the Reds, but tried to trade him to the New York Mets in 2000 for prospects.
Larkin blocked the proposed trade, and Lindner was so moved by the reception that Larkin got from fans that he approved a $27 million, three-year extension.
Bowden and manager Bob Boone were fired in July, when the club started a series of payroll-slashing trades that dealt away top players. With no general manager to make decisions, Larkin's fate became an issue as the season wound down.
Larkin has been limited by injuries for the past three years, and acknowledged that he can no longer be an everyday player. He was willing to take less to stay in Cincinnati, but found the Reds' offer unacceptable.
"When you play this many years on one team _ your hometown team _ and you only want to play one more year and you're flexible on a contract and your expectations are not that high, you'd think something could be done," Goldschmidt said.
Goldschmidt said Larkin will try to play one more season for another club.
Although Allen said Larkin would still be welcome to join the Reds in another capacity when he retires, Goldschmidt doesn't consider that an option now.
"If this is the way John Allen feels about Barry Larkin, why would Barry Larkin want to work for John Allen?" Goldschmidt said.