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.
It was initially reported that Sheffield wanted more money from the Yankees and that he was even considering re-signing with the Braves.
The Yankees moved quickly in the wake of Curt Schilling agreeing to accept a trade to Boston. They're also active in the market on other fronts:
The Yankees are close to a two year, $7 million deal with reliever Tom Gordon that is expected to be announced soon, a source told Gammons.
Yankees officials declined comment on the Gordon negotiations, but weekend discussions between the club and agent Rick Thurman were described to ESPN as "intense."
Meanwhile, it was believed that Gordon would wait until free-agent reliever Keith Foulke decides between the Athletics and Red Sox to make a decision, since Gordon and Eddie Guardado are Boston's backup plan.
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.
Sheffield, 35, has played for the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers and Braves during a productive, albeit sometimes stormy career. With the Braves last season, he hit .330 with 39 homers, 132 RBI and 18 stolen bases.
Dwight Gooden, Sheffield's uncle and a former Yankees pitcher, helped convince the All-Star to seriously consider the Yankees.
The Yankees are looking for a corner outfielder to go with regulars Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams. Last season, after they traded Raul Mondesi to Arizona, the Yankees used Karim Garcia, Juan Rivera, David Dellucci and Ruben Sierra in right field, with mixed results.
The New York Yankees have talked with free agent Gary Sheffield several times in the past week, but they haven't agreed to a contract and negotiations could push past next weekend.
"Conversations are progressing with more than one team," Rufus Williams, the outfielder's agent, said Sunday night. "There are still other teams that are interested."
Sheffield met informally with Yankees' officials at last Monday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants.
New York offered a three-year contract but might wait to close any deal until after the Dec. 7 deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents, a baseball official with knowledge of the Yankees' deliberations said on condition of anonymity.
If the Atlanta Braves don't offer arbitration to Sheffield, the team that signs him after Dec. 7 would not lose any amateur draft picks as compensation.
Williams said it's possible Sheffield could sign before then but nothing had been determined.
"A deal is done once it's inked, and we're not at that point," Williams said.
Sheffield, 35, could join an outfield that includes Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui. Sheffield, whose uncle is Yankees minor league pitching coach Dwight Gooden, hit .330 last season with 39 homers and 132 RBIs.
New York also is trying to solidify its bullpen, negotiating with agents for left-handers Gabe White and Felix Heredia -- both of whom ended the season with the Yankees. New York also has been discussing possible deals with agents for right-handers Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill and Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
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 Boston Red Sox acquired Curt Schilling from Arizona. 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.
The local NY papers are also reporting that Sheffield is a done deal. I haven't heard anything about Lofton though, until reading it here. Not to crazy about this move, but the need for a legit leadoff hitter is obvious. Vina or Castillo (forget him now) are guys I would look into.
Gotta re-sign Pettite. Get Colon instead of Vasquez. I'd rather keep Johnson, with that OB percentage. Him a Sheff, along with Gianmbi and Jeter and a healthy Williams, as well as Posada, all normally are near .400. That's very good for scoring a bunch of runs.