The Yankees have called, and Gary Sheffield is listening.
Sheffield told the Newark Star-Ledger for Friday's editions that he has had "a couple" of conversations with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and expected to speak with him again.
"They said I was the guy they wanted," Sheffield told the paper. "But as far as I'm concerned, that's neither here nor there until my name is on that paper. From the business end of it, everybody's going to say that."
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has always loved Sheffield, according to the paper. Sheffield grew up in Tampa, Fla., and has a 1997 World Series ring earned as a member of the Florida Marlins.
Sheffield has no agent and is representing himself in negotiations
with teams this winter. The Yankees and the Atlanta Braves, for whom he hit
.330 with 39 home runs and 132 RBI this season, are likely to be the teams
most active in pursuit of Sheffield, the Star-Ledger reports.
Marvet Britto, a Manhattan-based publicist who has known and advised
Sheffield for the past nine years, told the paper that one of the reasons Sheffield parted ways with agent Scott Boras was his worry that teams such as the Yankees
might be turned off by Boras' negotiating style.
"What a magical place to end his career," Britto told the Star-Ledger. "His uncle
(former Mets and Yankees pitcher Dwight Gooden) pitched there, and he's
always had so much respect for George. Wouldn't that be great?"
Sheffield said he is looking for a three-year deal.
"I think it would be great," Sheffield told the Newark paper. "I've always had the
desire to play there, because my uncle played there and I just think it
would be a great place to play ball."
Gooden, who works as an adviser to Steinbrenner in Tampa, has been
trying to recruit his nephew for weeks now, Sheffield told the paper.
"I have to screen my calls when his number comes up," Sheffield
told the Star-Ledger. "He's been blowing up my machine."