Outfielder's deal worth up to $38M

Originally Published: December 1, 2003
ESPN.com news services

Gary Sheffield has decided to accept the Yankees' three-year contract offer for between $36 million and $38 million, sources close to the free-agent outfielder have told ESPN's Peter Gammons.

Sheffield did not finalize details of the deal with George Steinbrenner on Saturday; the Yankees' principal owner was at a Tampa, Fla., hospital with longtime Yankee assistant Billy Connors, who suffered a heart attack Friday and underwent quadruple bypass surgery. But Sheffield has told friends the deal is done, Gammons reports.

Sheffield and his agent, Rufus Williams, had a one-hour meeting Tuesday with Steinbrenner at Legends Field, the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., the AP reported.

Williams said it has not been determined when a deal with the Yankees would be completed.

"A deal is done once it's inked, and we're not at that point," Williams told The Associated Press.

New York might wait to finalize Sheffield's deal until after the Dec. 7 deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to former players who became free agents, a baseball official with knowledge of the situation told AP on condition of anonymity.

It was initially reported that Sheffield wanted more money from the Yankees and that he was even considering re-signing with the Braves. If Atlanta doesn't offer arbitration to Sheffield, the team that signs him after Dec. 7 would not lose any amateur draft picks as compensation.

Sheffield, 35, has played for the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers and Braves. He hit .330 with 39 homers, 132 RBI and 18 stolen bases for Atlanta last season.

Dwight Gooden, Sheffield's uncle and a former Yankees pitcher, helped convince the All-Star to seriously consider the Yankees.

Meantime, New York announced its $700,000, one-year contract with infielder Enrique Wilson on Tuesday.

The Yankees were playing additionals angles in the free-agent market Monday:

  • The finalization of Tom Gordon's two-year, $7 million deal with the Yankees is imminent, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Monday.

  • The potential deal for Gordon doesn't diminish the Yankees' interest in a number of other set-up men: Paul Quantrill, Jeff Nelson, Felix Heredia and Gabe White. They could still sign as many as three from that group, which could bring the salaries of their relievers to between $31 million and $35 million depending on how the numbers shake out. And that assumes that Jose Contreras will not be an $8 million set-up man.

  • There had been speculation that, because Gordon and Keith Foulke have the same agent, Gordon's decision to sign with the Yankees might indicate that Foulke has decided to sign with Boston. But multiple sources told ESPN.com that Foulke still hasn't been able to make up his mind.

    The Red Sox and Athletics are still viewed as his most likely destinations, but the Cubs and Mets remain in the picture, at least technically. Foulke is expected to sign this week, but did not appear to be close to a decision Monday.

  • The Yankees also are interested in free-agent outfielder Kenny Lofton, although sources have told Gammons that no formal offer has been made to Lofton's agent, Casey Close.

  • The Yankees' negotiations with left-hander Andy Pettitte are expected to intensify this week. Pettitte has met once with the Houston Astros, and re-signing the 21-game winner is New York's top offseason priority.

    New York's need to re-sign Pettitte increased when the Red Sox acquired Schilling. Schilling joins Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe to give Boston's rotation a formidable front end. The Yankees' rotation is uncertain following the retirement of 41-year-old Roger Clemens and the team's decision to decline an option on 40-year-old David Wells.

    Information from ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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