Sheffield not warm to trade talks

Sheffield not warm to trade talks

BALTIMORE -- Gary Sheffield is the newest name at the center of the early summer trade rumors, but the Yankees right fielder has a warning for any team interested in dealing for him: Don't bother.

Sheffield, who was reportedly being dangled by the Yankees in a deal with the Mets that would have landed Mike Cameron in the Bronx, said that if he is traded, his new team better be prepared to extend his contract and give him more money -- and whatever else he can think of to make it pay for taking the pinstripes off his uniform.

"It was my first choice to come here," Sheffield said. "I made a lot of concessions to come here, and I'll make it very clear; If I have to go somewhere else, a lot of things are going to have to be changed or you're going to have an unhappy player.

"I'll ask for everything. Period. You want to inconvenience me, I'm going to inconvenience every situation there is," he added. "The only reason I'm playing is that I wanted to play for the Yankees. If I don't get that opportunity, things change."

Both the New York Post and The Record of Hackensack, N.J., reported Wednesday that the two New York teams were in discussions to swap outfielders. The Yankees have been looking for a defensive upgrade in center field, while the Mets have been searching for a big bat to put in the meat of their lineup.

But manager Joe Torre said before Wednesday's game that the Yankees had turned down the Mets' offer for Sheffield, adding that he had informed Sheffield of that fact shortly after he had spoken with reporters.

"Yeah, there was conversation [with the Mets], but that particular thing with trading Sheffield, we turned that down," said Torre, who was asked by Brian Cashman to talk to Sheffield after the general manager couldn't get a hold of him. "I wanted to let him know that we turned down any inquiry about him from the Mets. We said, 'No, thank you.'"

Sheffield is one of the few Yankees stars without a no-trade clause in his contract, joining Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Tom Gordon. He signed a three-year, $39 million contract in December 2003, negotiating the deal with owner George Steinbrenner himself.

"Every name is always involved in trade rumors, but when you're in New York, the rumors become a little bigger than other places," Torre said. "With his ability, people are going to ask about him. He has the kind of talent that can pick a club up."

Sheffield deferred $4.5 million per year -- interest-free -- in each of the years on his contract, a concession he feels most All-Star players wouldn't make in this era.

"I understand the whole situation," he said, referring to his lack of a no-trade. "It's just that the fact that I made concessions to come here, that's what this is about. It's personal to me, whether it's talk or it's for real. I don't care.

"I allowed them to defer money that no player has ever done, to try to prove to people that it isn't about the money," he added. "How many people that are my caliber as a player would have done what I did? There are players on this team making the kind of money they're making and they didn't defer anything. I look at the whole scenario. I sacrificed, and now you're putting me in a [compromising] position, we're both going to be uncomfortable."

Sheffield heard about the trade rumor through his attorney, Rufus Williams, who had read the reports in Wednesday's papers.

"I don't put nothing past anything, but I live day-to-day. I never worry about what tomorrow's going to bring or what rumors are being spread," Sheffield said. "It's always an honor to be wanted. To be still going as long as I have and to have people still want you, I feel good about that."

Although the Mets would be the one team in baseball that Sheffield could go play for without having to relocate his family, that fact didn't make the idea any more appealing to the 36-year-old.

"It doesn't matter who it is. If I didn't choose to go there, things are going to have to be changed about my whole situation," Sheffield said. "Contract, years, everything. Other than that, you might as well not bother trading for me, because you're going to have a very unhappy player."

That said, he did say that he wouldn't hold out if he were to be traded.

"I would never sit out," Sheffield said. "I'd go play, but that doesn't mean I'll be happy playing. If I'm not happy, you don't want me on your team. It's that simple. I'll make that known to anybody."

Mets general manager Omar Minaya did his best to squash the story as well, while Cameron simply chose not to address the issue.

"I think Cam has done a great job in right field," Minaya said of Cameron. "He's part of our team. I want to say, he's part of our core."

"Don't ask me about no trade because I don't know nothing about it," Cameron told The Associated Press.

Sheffield said that his discontent with the story was not a knock against Minaya or the Mets.

"I love Omar Minaya and I think he's a great guy, but this is more personal than anything," Sheffield said. "This ain't got nothing to do with him."

Despite his obvious displeasure with the trade talk, Sheffield insisted he had no hard feelings toward the Yankees.

"I don't feel betrayed whatsoever. [The story] could be coming from anywhere," Sheffield said. "[The Yankees] might not have anything to do with it, but that's the perception, the media spin. You can't sit here and blame the Yankees for other teams wanting me.

"It ain't done. All this is, is talk. Since it's talk, I'm going to talk. All I'm doing is talking. The media is running their mouth, so I'm running mine."

Sheffield admitted that his rant on Wednesday was designed in part to dissuade teams from pursuing him in a trade, though his words appeared to be sincere.

"I hope it will. That's my plan, that's why I'm saying it," Sheffield said. "I don't want them to come ask about me. Don't ask about me. I'm not interested in driving to any other stadium."

"I remember seeing him the first time at the Himes complex [in 2004] before Spring Training, and he said, 'I want one of those,' pointing to my World Series ring," Torre said. "I said, 'You have one.' And he said, 'No, with the NY on it.' He wants to be here."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.