Gary Sheffield left New York with what he wanted: a $28 million contract extension through 2009 and a promise that he wouldn't be playing first base.
Sheffield was traded from the Yankees to the Detroit Tigers yesterday for three pitching prospects in the first major trade of the offseason, a deal that brings him back to Tigers manager Jim Leyland and team president Dave Dombrowski.
"I was ecstatic because I get reunited with the people that I've always loved," Sheffield said. "They're business-minded. They're smart people. They're respectful people. They treat you like men. That's what you want to be around. To reunite with them after 10 years is a blessing."
New York gets righthanders Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, and Anthony Claggett.
In 1997, Sheffield won a World Series title with the Florida Marlins, managed by Leyland under Dombrowski, who was the team's general manager.
"This is one of the ultimate bats in baseball and one of the ultimate people in baseball," Leyland said. "I have the utmost respect for him. I can't tell you how happy we are. It's almost unbelievable. It's hard for me to believe that we landed Gary Sheffield."
Sheffield, who turns 38 on Nov. 18, has 455 homers in 19 seasons but became superfluous in New York after the Yankees acquired Bobby Abreu from Philadelphia in late July. When Sheffield returned from an April wrist injury in late September, the Yankees shifted him to first base.
Leyland plans to use Sheffield primarily as a designated hitter, but will also use him as a backup to Magglio Ordonez in right field and possibly to Craig Monroe in left.
"We have said all along that we wanted to add a big bat as one of our goals in the offseason," Dombrowski said. "As things turned out, we were able to do that in a very quick fashion."
The 23-year-old Sanchez was a combined 10-6 with a 2.53 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 123 innings with Triple A Toledo and Double A Erie this year. He is a hard thrower and was mentioned in trade speculation last summer before hurting an elbow.
Whelan, 22, was 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA and 27 saves for Single A Lakeland. Claggett, 22, was 7-2 with an 0.91 ERA and 14 saves for Single A West Michigan.
Ramírez, who has won the award for eight straight seasons and nine overall, is tied for third with Barry Larkin in career Silver Sluggers, trailing Barry Bonds (12) and Mike Piazza (10). Ortiz won for the third straight season.
New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran were among 13 first-time winners.
Ortiz and Ramírez each earned $100,000 bonuses for winning the award, which are given annually by Hillerich & Bradsby Co., the maker of Louisville Slugger bats.