NEW YORK - For weeks it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Gary Sheffield would become the Yankees' rightfielder. Now, it could be Vladimir Guerrero.
The Bergen, N.J., Record reported that after a handshake agreement with owner George Steinbrenner on a three-year, $39-million contract, Sheffield upped his demand to $42-million, angering the Yankees and jeopardizing the deal. Steinbrenner flew to New York on Tuesday to meet with members of his hierarchy and decide if Sheffield still was worth the money, the Record reported.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported, general manager Brian Cashman has spoken with the agent for Guerrero, the former Expos slugger.
The Yankees would like to sign Guerrero to the same deal they offered Sheffield, but the Times reported Guerrero was asking for a much longer deal, perhaps for six or seven years.
ANGELS ADD COLON: Anaheim took one of the top pitchers off the free-agent market, agreeing to a four-year contract with right-hander Bartolo Colon.
The Angels offered a deal worth about $48-million, the Associated Press reported.
This might not be Anaheim's only blockbuster deal. If the Alex Rodriguez-Manny Ramirez deal goes through, five-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra would be out of a job. The Red Sox reportedly might try to trade him to the Angels for a pitcher, possibly Jarrod Washburn, or second baseman Adam Kennedy.
BOSOX RIP AGENT: Red Sox owner John Henry lashed out at Garciaparra's agent, saying it was the "the height of hypocrisy" to accuse the team of betrayal even though the shortstop rejected the team's long-term offer last spring.
"He says we're being disingenuous. I take great umbrage at that statement," Henry said at the opening of the team's academy in the Dominican Republic.
Garciaparra said this week he would be hurt if the Red Sox went through with plans to trade him and acquire shortstop Rodriguez from Texas.
Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, told the Boston Globe that the team's efforts to acquire Rodriguez were "a slap in the face."
BRAVES: Right-hander John Thomson agreed to a two-year contract two days after Atlanta parted with ace Greg Maddux.
EXPOS: Antonio Munoz, the promoter who brought the team to San Juan last season, said the commissioner's office has agreed to give him Puerto Rican television rights for games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium next season.
MARINERS: Left-hander Eddie Guardado agreed to a contract that guarantees the closer $13-million over three years.
PADRES: Japanese right-hander Akinori Otsuka agreed to a two-year deal worth just less than $2-million as San Diego tried to upgrade its bullpen. Also, general manager Kevin Towers said he hadn't heard back from the agent for centerfielder Kenny Lofton a day after San Diego made a contract offer.
PHILLIES: Former Giants closer Tim Worrell agreed to a $5.5-million, two-year contract.
ROCKIES: Vinny Castilla is close to returning. The third baseman, a bust in his season-plus with the Devil Rays after seven seasons in Colorado, was expected to cut short a winter-league appearance in his native Mexico to take a physical this week.