Sheffield, unhappy the Dodgers won't extend his contract beyond 2004, wants to be traded to the Mets, Yankees or Braves. While the Mets and Dodgers have been talking, it hasn't amounted to much.
"The Mets have made no offer, I don't consider them a player in this," Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said before the teams played Saturday.
What would it take for the Mets to be a serious player?
"An offer," Malone replied. "We've had no satisfactory offers. I've heard some fair offers. We're waiting for a satisfactory offer. As of this point today, if we don't get a satisfactory deal, Gary Sheffield will open the season in left field for the Los Angeles Dodgers."
That seems difficult to fathom, considering what's transpired in the last three weeks.
Rebuffed before the start of spring training in his request for a contract extension to make him a "lifetime Dodger," Sheffield met again with Malone and team chairman Bob Daly late Friday.
Sheffield, 32, again was turned down in his bid for an extension.
"They're in a tough boat, and I completely sympathize with them," Mets GM Steve Phillips acknowledged. "This is one I'm not overly optimistic about. It's not one we're going to chase, it's one we're going to see if it comes to us."
Phillips said he would speak to Malone again, but added: "I think we've clearly defined those things we wouldn't do. I've shown my empathy in our discussions. At this point, it would be inappropriate for us to reassemble our club. The formula we have works."
Sheffield, a six-time All-Star who hit .325 with 43 homers and 109 RBIs last season, is under contract for $30 million over the next three years with a club option for a fourth year at another $11 million. He would like the option eliminated and a new deal to start in 2004.
"There's nobody here who would not welcome him into tis situation, absolutely," Mets first baseman Todd Zeile said. "What I know of Gary personally, he's always been respectful and good to me. The guys here who have played with him say he was a good teammate."
Zeile was quoted a couple weeks ago as questioning the wisdom of acquiring Sheffield. That was at a time Zeile thought the outfielder was asking to renegotiate.
"Asking for an extension is a totally different animal," Zeile said.
Malone said he wasn't angry or frustrated with what's going on.
"I'm fine, I'm focused," he said. "I'm just trying to do the best job I can in a very difficult situation."
Sheffield is expected to play in his first exhibition game Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles in Vero Beach.
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