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Yankees settle with Sheffield

Williams could become DH

The Yankees plan to introduce Gary Sheffield at a Yankee Stadium news conference today, another step in an offseason overhaul that could wind up shifting Bernie Williams to designated hitter.

 

Sheffield's $39 million, three-year contract, which includes $13.5 million in deferred money, was being finalized by lawyers for the team and the outfielder yesterday. New York also has a two-year deal with Kenny Lofton that hasn't been completed.

With Hideki Matsui in left, there could be no room in the outfield for Williams, a regular there since 1993 but slowing down at age 35.

"He's aware that he has a possibility of being our DH," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Bernie is a professional. If that's the way it goes, he looks forward to the challenge of competing with anybody we choose to bring in -- if we choose to bring them in. He's a consummate team player."

A four-time Gold Glove in the outfield, Williams's arm has weakened considerably in recent years. His range decreased once he returned from surgery on his left knee last May.

"We're just trying to put the best team on the field that's possible," Cashman said.

New York also completed its trade with Montreal for 27-year-old righthander Javier Vazquez. First baseman Nick Johnson, who returned from vacation in Europe, passed his physical to finalize the Dec. 4 deal.

Going rate

Reggie Sanders joined his seventh team in seven seasons, agreeing to a $6 million, two-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, and left fielder Jose Guillen said he has agreed to a two-year contract with the Anaheim Angels worth about $6 million.

Sanders, 36, fills a void in the outfield created by last weekend's trade that sent J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero to Atlanta. He hit .285 last season for the Pirates with a team-leading 31 homers and 87 RBIs.

He's also played with the Giants, Diamondbacks, Braves, and Padres after spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Reds.

Sanders chose the Cardinals over the Tigers because he didn't want to go to the American League, and said he received interest from the Dodgers and Padres. Guillen batted .265 in 45 games with the A's and had 23 RBIs. Oakland acquired Guillen from Cincinnati in July. Angels vice president Tim Mead said the team wasn't prepared to announce a deal. The agreement is expected to be completed once Guillen takes a physical. "I'm very happy," Guillen said in the Dominican Republic. "I wanted a contract guaranteeing several years with one team, and that's the most important thing."

A's get Redman

The Florida Marlins traded pitcher Mark Redman to Oakland for reliever Mike Neu in yet another offseason move by the World Series champions.

A day after acquiring him from Montreal for a player to be named, the Athletics also traded catcher Michael Barrett to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named.

In addition, Oakland agreed to a $3.65 million, two-year contract with reliever Ricardo Rincon. The 33-year-old lefthander was 8-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 64 relief appearances last season.

Stalled return

Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel failed a physical in Seattle, putting in jeopardy a trade that would have sent him to the Mariners for Carlos Guillen.

The teams had agreed on a deal to swap the shortstops contingent on Vizquel passing medical tests. The 36-year-old had two surgeries on his right knee last season.

The Indians also agreed to a $925,000, one-year deal with righthander Jake Westbrook, who was 7-10, with a 4.33 ERA last season . . . The Colorado Rockies will use righthander Shawn Chacon as their closer this season. Chacon started strong last season, but was slowed by elbow trouble after the All-Star break. Chacon won a club-record 11 games before the break last season and became only the second pitcher in franchise history to be named to the All-Star team. But inflammation in his right elbow limited him to six starts the rest of the season and he finished 11-8 with a 4.60 ERA.

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