Yanks ready to sweeten Posada offer

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will make a last-ditch effort to prevent catcher Jorge Posada from shopping himself around. Cashman is expected to improve the club's three-year, $40 million offer to Posada at a weekend meeting in New York.

Posada has been seeking four years, and it is expected he could get a four-year deal elsewhere. It is uncertain whether the Yankees' enhanced proposal will include an extra year.

Cashman and other Yankees executives already met multiple times in the last couple days with Posada's agents, the Levinson brothers, at the GM meetings in Orlando.

Coincidentally, the Levinson's are involved in a similar negotiation with the rival Red Sox regarding World Series MVP Mike Lowell. Boston is offering a three-year contract while Lowell seeks a four-year deal for close to $60 million. If the Red Sox sign Lowell, their chances to sign top free agent Alex Rodriguez are significantly diminished since the Red Sox much prefer A-Rod as a third baseman, not a shortstop.

Free agents can begin taking offers from other teams Tuesday, and Posada is expected to receive interest from the crosstown Mets, whose own catcher Paul Lo Duca also is a free agent. The Yankees can ill afford to lose Posada, who batted .338 with 20 home runs and 90 RBIs, particularly after A-Rod opted out of his $252 million contract.

Executives around baseball generally expect the Yankees to eventually give in and give Posada, who is 36, the fourth year. Longtime batterymate Mariano Rivera gave no response to the Yankees' three-year, $39 million offer and may also shop himself around -- though the Phillies' acquisition of closer Brad Lidge eliminates on option.