Yankees Keep O'Neill, Straw


Starting their offseason moves, the New York Yankees exercised Paul O'Neill's $6.5 million option and Darryl Strawberry's $750,000 option.

The decisions, which were expected, came Tuesday on the first day of the team's organizational meetings at Tampa, Fla.

O'Neill, who will be 37 next season, hit .285 with 19 homers and 110 RBIs. He also had a go-ahead, two-run single off John Rocker in the eighth innings of the Yankees' 4-1 in the World Series opener.

The right fielder played 11 of 12 postseason games despite breaking a rib on the last weekend of the regular season, and played in Game 4 of the World Series last Wednesday following the death of his father earlier in the day.

Strawberry, who will be 38 next year, didn't join the Yankees until Sept. 1, missing the start of the season while recovering from colon cancer surgery, then getting suspended for nearly four months following a drug-related arrest in Florida.

He hit .327 with three homers and six RBIs in 49 at-bats and walked 17 times. Strawberry hit a three-run homer in Game 3 of the first-round series against Texas and homered in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series against Boston.

Strawberry is expected to be the Yankees' designated hitter against right-handed pitchers next season. Chili Davis, the DH most of the time this year, is expected to retire.

New York has six players still eligible for free agency: right-hander David Cone, catchers Joe Girardi and Jim Leyritz, infielder Luis Sojo and left-handers Mike Stanton and Allen Watson.

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