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Sheffield signing with Mets


Gary Sheffield has agreed to sign with the New York Mets, has learned. The agreement is pending a physical on Saturday.

It is presumed that the Mets will pay him the pro-rated portion of the $400,000 minimum. The Tigers are obligated to pick up the rest of Sheffield's $14 million salary.

"Gary gives us another element in the lineup and he gives us a different intensity, just because of the competitive guy that he is," Mets GM Omar Minaya said.

Sheffield chose the Mets over the Phillies and Reds because he believes he'll get more playing time in New York.

"The Mets told him, 'You deliver, and you'll play,' '' a person close to Sheffield said.

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Though Mets people have said no promises have been made.

The New York Post first reported that the Mets were closing in on a deal with Sheffield earlier on Friday.

He's expected to be mainly a right-handed pinch hitter off the bench and to occasionally spell Ryan Church in right field. Mets people also hope the added competition might spur Church, who struggled in the second half last year.

Sheffield, who is former Mets great Dwight Gooden's nephew, brings power to the lineup, as noted by his 499 career home runs. But he was released by the Tigers after hitting .178 this spring following his .225 average last season (and only 19 home runs in 431 at-bats).

The Mets, who had shown interest in Sheffield at various times in the past but always wound up backing away, sent two scouts to watch Sheffield throw in Tampa on Thursday.

"It's good. I hope he comes in with a good attitude," Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado said. "I'm sure he wants to prove to people that he can play."

Sheffield has played for eight teams during his major league career, appearing in nine All-Star Games. He is a .292 career hitter and has knocked in 1,633 RBIs (with eight 100-RBI seasons under his belt).