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Yankees close in on Sheffield

NEW YORK -- In the wake of Curt Schilling's decision to accept a trade to the Red Sox, George Steinbrenner will salve his wounds not with pitching but with offense.

Gary Sheffield and the Yankees have virtually agreed on a deal that will put the right fielder in pinstripes, with only some final details to be sorted out. According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, the agreement will last three years, feature a team option for a fourth year, and pay Sheffield, 35, between $38 million and $40 million.

The Yankees could announce the signing shortly -- all the better to divert attention from Schilling's decision. Steinbrenner has always thirsted for star players, and that thirst has increased in the last two years with the advent of his YES television network.

Though Sheffield's career has been littered with controversy during previous stops in Milwaukee, San Diego, Florida, and Los Angeles, he is coming off two peaceful, productive seasons in Atlanta.

As a Tampa native and the nephew of Yankees minor league pitching coach Dwight Gooden (who helped convince Sheffield to come aboard), he has always held the admiration of Steinbrenner, a Tampa resident.

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