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Sheffield To Mets: More Than A Rumor?

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David Lennon thinks so:

The Mets have contacted Gary Sheffield directly to gauge his interest in coming to New York and a person familiar with the situation said today that he could sign with a club as soon as tonight. Sheffield worked out yesterday at a college field in Tampa, as first reported by SI.com, and the Mets are considered to be his first choice, with the Phillies and Reds also showing interest.

"He wants the Mets to know he’s still hungry," the person said, "and he has goals."

Sheffield, 41, is sitting on 499 home runs, which means Citi Field could host a significant historical milestone within the first week of the stadium’s existence. He also wants to reach 3,000 hits, but is much further away from that mark at 2,615. Sheffield also has indicated that he wants to play beyond this season, a motivating factor that should work in the Mets’ favor.

There is an instant Mets connection as well. Sheffield is the nephew of Dwight Gooden, who is expected to be in attendance for the Citi Field opener on April 13.

On the surface, Sheffield appears to be a good fit for the Mets as a right-handed slugger capable of providing power off the bench. If they did sign Sheffield, Marlon Anderson is the most obvious roster casualty. Eating his $1.15-million salary is made more palatable by the fact that Sheffield is only due the major-league minimum of $400,000. The Tigers released him earlier this week despite owing him $14 million for this season.

Whatever you think of the guy, Gary Sheffield > Marlon Anderson in almost every conceivable way.

Update [12:45pm]: More from The Post:

The Mets were closing in on signing Gary Sheffield, likely today, with an eye on giving him significant playing time, according to two people involved in the talks.

"Unless something drastic happens, he is a Met," one of the sources said. "Someone would have to offer him a second year, and I just don't see that happening."

One person who has talked directly to Sheffield said the slugger prefers the Mets over the Phillies because he sees a greater potential for playing time, and wants the heavier workload as a way to showcase for the 2010 season. Sheffield is a free agent at the conclusion of this season.