NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees' prime objective in their sudden whirlwind of activity is the acquisition of Pirates' slugger Barry Bonds, sources told the New York Daily News yesterday.
A source close to George Steinbrenner said The Boss is hungry to acquire the flashy Bonds, knowing that outfield bookends of Bonds and recently signed free-agent Danny Tartabull likely would overshadow the New York Mets' flurry of activity during the winter meetings.
The source said, "George really wants Bonds. Let's just say that was made very apparent at the partners meeting in Fort Lauderdale at the end of the year.
"From what I hear, the Tartabull signing was a way to a means of acquiring Bonds because it gives them the glut of outfielders they need to put together a deal."
The Mets' high-profile signing of Bobby Bonilla annoyed Steinbrenner and, although he had some of the sting eased by the Tartabull catch, he knows Bonds is considered one of the top players in the game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates know they will not be able to sign Bonds at the end of the year when he becomes a free agent. The superstar outfielder probably would command more than $6 million a year, a figure hard to reach in Pittsburgh, especially with pitcher Doug Drabek also due for free agency.
The lefty-swinging Bonds would be an awesome force in Yankee Stadium. He will be only 27 entering the coming season.
No one knows exactly how such a deal would come down or even if general manager Gene Michael has such a swap on the front burner. Michael is desperate to acquire a third baseman as well as some quality starting pitching.
He may be trying to structure such deals whereby he has enough left over to acquire Bonds.
Sources say that although the Yankees don't really need any more outfielders, they simply could not shy away from acquiring Bonds.
Such a deal would be complicated because the Yankees would insist that Bonds sign a contract before making the trade. Bonds may be reluctant to commit with the dollar signs being thrown at star-power free agents. But he also may simply take the money and then not have to worry about injury this season.