Mets take Sheffield off waivers
NEW YORK -- Gary Sheffield is staying with the New York Mets. Billy Wagner, however, could soon be headed to Boston.
Sheffield and general manager Omar Minaya confirmed Friday that they met the previous day to discuss the outfielder's status. Minaya told Sheffield another club had placed a waiver claim on him, but the GM pulled Sheffield back off waivers rather than let him go or work out a deal to trade him.
Minaya wouldn't reveal which club wanted Sheffield, but the GM said he decided the Mets weren't offered enough in return to make a trade worthwhile.
Because the fourth-place Mets pulled Sheffield off waivers, they can't trade him for the rest of the season.
The Red Sox claimed Wagner off waivers, an MLB source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney Friday.
Minaya declined to comment, and Wagner said he hadn't heard anything about a waiver claim. But the 38-year-old reliever sounded interested in going to a playoff contender.
"I think that's what every player wants to do is play on a contender and have a shot to go to the World Series," Wagner said. "Like we all know, I'm not getting any younger and the window is starting to shut. You want to have that chance, and take it if you get it."
Wagner, sixth on the career list with 385 saves, was expected to miss the entire season following elbow ligament replacement surgery last September. But he made a fast recovery and returned to the Mets on Thursday night, when he struck out two in a perfect inning against Atlanta and reached 96 mph with his fastball.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment. Wagner is in the final season of a $43 million, four-year contract that includes a no-trade clause and an $8 million club option for 2010.
The Mets have until early Tuesday afternoon to work out a deal. The Red Sox would have to assume about $3.5 million still owed to Wagner. If no deal is consumated, the Mets can either allow Wagner to leave on the claim or pull him back off waivers. If the Mets pull Wagner back, they would no longer be able to trade him this season.
After asking for a night off Thursday to clear his head, Sheffield was back in the starting lineup Friday night against Philadelphia. He said he never asked Minaya for a contract extension and he was ready to move on in New York with a positive attitude.
"I'm here, and I committed to being here," Sheffield said. "My teammates rely on me, and I'm going to go out there and be a standup guy and play hard for them."
The 40-year-old Sheffield was signed just before the season after he was cut by Detroit. He also sounded intrigued about finishing the season elsewhere.
"Why would you hold on to me, not allow me to go play on a contending team? It just was confusing to me," Sheffield said. "This is the tail end of my career. I came here to win, and obviously things happened and that's not going to happen. But going forward, I would like to win."
Minaya said he explained his thought process to Sheffield.
"I sat down with him and talked and pretty much told him that we were not ready and I was not ready to talk about next year," Minaya said. "It's a situation where we're trying to win as many games as we can. And if a team wants to claim a player and not give us what we feel is value for the player, I have a responsibility to the manager and to the players that are here to win as many games as possible. And also to the fans."
Sheffield said it was "kind of embarrassing" to learn about the waiver claim from reporters rather than the Mets.
"He needed a day, he got his day and he's ready to go," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I don't have any problem with Sheff. I just like the fact that he's in that third spot, waving that bat, hopefully doing a little damage for the next three or four days."
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and the Associated Press contributed to this story.