With the season already lost, the time for evaluation has clearly begun for the Mets. As a result, Livan Hernandez was released Thursday afternoon, and Gary Sheffield could read the writing on the wall, too.
So Sheffield, who had asked Mets’ general manager Omar Minaya for a contract extension three weeks ago and was told they would talk later, revisited the talks, sitting down with Minaya for a meeting.
His name already penciled in the No. 3 spot in the batting order, it was abruptly scratched when Sheffield, denied the extension, asked for his release instead. While that wasn’t granted either, it left the two sides at an ugly standoff with Sheffield threatening to leave the park – a threat he did not make good on as he was on the bench for the start of the game.
The Mets have little recourse regarding Sheffield, who has said since his release from the Tigers in spring training that he could happily walk away from the game. The team placed him on waivers earlier this month and he was claimed by the Marlins, according to someone close to Sheffield. The Mets, unable to make a deal, pulled him back from waivers. But that left them now with the inability to deal him as any move to place him through waivers could result in a team picking him up for nothing.
According to a person familiar with the talks, Sheffield asked Minaya Thursday for his release or a trade to the Marlins – the team he had spent the longest tenure of his career with of the eight teams he has played for. The Mets are unable to make a deal and can either hang on to Sheffield, release him or expose him to the irrevocable waivers.
It was just another confounding day in a season that seems to be filled with them. But this seemed to signal a white flag – from the team regarding Hernandez and from Sheffield regarding his own status with the organization.