"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


According to Peter Gammons, the Yankees are set to sign free agent outfielder Gary Sheffield to a three-year deal worth somewhere between $36-$38 million. The only question is: when will the deal be announced?

New York may wait until after the Dec. 7 deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to former players who became free agents to finalize the deal with Sheffield, 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.

The signing of Sheffield is inevitable. The suspicious part of me fears that this is Danny Tartabull all over again, but to be fair, Sheffield is a much better player than Tartabull ever was. Sure, there should be concerns about the health of a 35-year old player, not to mention Sheffield’s history as a malcontent. One the other hand, the optimist in me says, here is a great hitter, coming off his best season. (Since when do the Yankees sign players who are past their prime?) If he can remain healthy, he should continue to produce for the next three years.

Aaron Gleeman thinks it’s a good move for New York:

The immediate reaction from many people seems to be that New York is making a mistake, mostly because Sheffield does nothing to solve their defensive problems up the middle.

I certainly agree that the Yankees middle-infield and middle-outfield situations are pretty bad on the defensive end. That said, Sheffield is one of the best hitters in baseball and adding his bat to the lineup is going to be a massive improvement over the production New York got from their right fielders last year (.256/.317/.465).

And really, what is the difference if you are improving a team by 50 runs on offense or 50 runs on defense? It’s the same 50 runs. Actually, I don’t think that’s completely true, but you get the general idea. And improving the team by 50 runs on defense would probably require more than just signing one player, which is all they had to do to improve the offense that much.

I never used to like watching Sheffield hit. He just had too many tics. He was so hyped up I felt uncomfortable just watching him. He made me nervous. But Sheff doesn’t seem to spit as much during an at-bat as he used to though, and I have to admit I’ve been won over during the past few seasons by just how impressive an offensive player he is. Sheffield’s bat speed is tremendous, and boy, does he ever hit the ball hard.

Yeah, I would have liked to have Vlad, but the Yankees aren’t interested in adding another long-term contract. Sheff wants to play here, and George wants him. Like it or not, here he comes.

The Yankees are also close to inking Tom “Flash” Gordon to a two-year, $7 million pact to serve as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man. Paul Quantrill and LaTroy Hawkins remain options as well.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver