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DETROIT -- The Tigers made the first big move of baseball's offseason on Friday, acquiring outfielder Gary Sheffield from the Yankees for three Minor League prospects. Upon the deal's completion, Sheffield and the Tigers agreed to a two-year contract extension that runs through the 2009 season.In so doing, Detroit managed to acquire its top goal of the offseason, the run-producing bat it wanted to pump up the middle of a lineup that was better known for its balance than its power. Sheffield, who turns 38 next weekend, was limited to just 39 regular-season games this year due to injuries, but he had three consecutive 30-homer, 120-RBI seasons before that. He is also known for his ability to draw walks at the plate.As much talent as Sheffield has, however, he was expendable to the Yankees, whose acquisition of Bobby Abreu last July to fill in for an injured Sheffield turned out to provide a replacement instead. Sheffield moved to first base once he returned from the disabled list, with mixed results. With one year and $13 million left on Sheffield's contract, the Yankees made no secret of offering him up on the trade market.The Tigers acquiesced to one of Sheffield's requests and signed him to a two-year contract extension.He comes to Detroit without the Tigers breaking up their vaunted pitching staff in return, but the price in Minor League pitching was high. Right-hander Humberto Sanchez -- considered the top pitching prospect in the organization -- goes to New York, as do Anthony Claggett and highly regarded relief prospect Kevin Whelan.Sanchez was among the bigger names mentioned when the Tigers were shopping for a hitter at the July 31 trade deadline, but an elbow injury in late July essentially ended his season there. He went 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts at Double-A Erie before posting the same record with a 3.86 ERA at Triple-A Toledo.Whelan saved 27 games for Class A Lakeland, going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA in the process. Claggett went 7-2 with a 0.91 ERA and 14 saves for low Class A West Michigan.
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