Yankees pick up Sheffield's option

Yankees pick up Sheffield's option

NEW YORK -- Gary Sheffield is still a member of the New York Yankees. For now, anyway.

The Yankees announced Sunday that they have picked up Sheffield's $13 million option for the 2007 season, but they are expected to trade him sometime this winter.

"All that has happened is that they picked up the option," said Rufus Williams, who represents Sheffield. "Our expectation since Spring Training was that they would pick it up, so we're right where we thought we would be."

Of course, back in February, Sheffield assumed that the Yankees would pick up the option to use him as their starting right fielder. But Sheffield's role with the Yankees was left up in the air at last July's trade deadline, when New York dealt for Bobby Abreu.

Sheffield played a handful of games at first base at the end of the season and in the playoffs, but the experiment did not go well.

By exercising his option, the Yankees now control where Sheffield will play in 2007 instead of allowing him to choose his destination -- including Boston -- as a free agent.

He signed a contract for three years and $39 million before the 2004 season, but did not include a no-trade clause in that deal. Among the teams believed to be interested in Sheffield are the Phillies, Indians, Rangers and Tigers.

"What we know is that there are a number of different alternatives," Williams said. "We're resigned to seeing what happens and going from there."

Sheffield, who turns 38 later this month, was limited to 39 games this season because of a left wrist injury. He batted .298 with six homers and 25 RBIs, and indicated he wants to play for three more seasons before retiring.

Last month, Sheffield told USA Today that he would not react well if the Yankees exercised the option and traded him.

"I don't know what they're going to do," Sheffield told the paper. "Maybe they picked it up just to trade me. If they do that, if I just [go] to a team for one year, there's going to be a problem. A big problem. I will not do this."

Now, it appears that he will have little choice.

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