Don Mattingly says he wouldn't be shocked if the New York Yankees traded him.
In fact, the All-Star first basemen predicts it will happen eventually."Maybe it's the best thing for everyone," Mattingly said of a trade. "Maybe it isn't."
"It's going to happen," Mattingly also said in an interview with the Westchester-Rockland Newspapers. "He's got to do what he's got to do."
The `he' of course is George Steinbrenner, the Yankees principal owner.
Mattingly acknowledged that his criticism of Steinbrenner may have sparked the trade rumors that began surfacing this weekend.
"I just feel he's going to do it," Mattingly said.
"I don't think he likes me doing what I've been doing, the things I'm saying."
Mattingly sharply criticized Steinbrenner a week ago, although he did not name the owner.
"I don't think anybody is untradable," Mattingly said. "There's no such thing as untouchable.
"I'm sure I have some value out there. You can deal me and get some pitchers and figure you can get somebody to play first base.
"I'm really not concerned one way or another. . . . I'm just a commodity on the market.
"If management wants to move me, there's nothing I can do about it. I'm a piece of property that can be switched from one team to another."
Toronto general manager Pat Gillick began the rumors, predicting New York will trade Mattingly, possibly before the season ends.
"I think he's gone, from the tone of the conversations I've had with the Yankees," Gillick was quoted as saying in Sunday's editions of the Toronto Sun.
Gillick said Mattingly could be traded by the Wednesday deadline for postseason rosters "depending on how far they're out of it by then.
"They may wait until November and just get an auction going, you know, just see what they can get for him," Gillick said.
Contacted by the Associated Press Sunday night during Toronto's game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Gillick confirmed his remarks:
"That's what I said. But I don't have anything more to say on it. I'm just not going to comment on it."
Bob Quinn, the Yankees general manager, denied the reports.
"Shortly after Don made his statements in the paper, we had two or three or four general managers inquire about his availability," Quinn said.
"They generally asked us about his availability and our answer was `No, not unless you can overwhelm us.'
"My guess is there isn't a team in baseball that can satisfy us. I can't see a club that would decimate its roster for Don Mattingly."
"If Gillick wants to run his mouth off, let him run his mouth off," Quinn told the Hartford Courant earlier.
"That's his prerogative. It's absolutely ridiculous. There is no truth to any of this."
"Obviously, if Mr. Steinbrenner was totally disappointed in Don Mattingly's remarks he would have said flat out we're putting Mattingly on the market," Quinn said Sunday. "He didn't do that."
Mattingly, who will earn $2.2 million in 1989 and $2.5 million in 1990, the final season of his three-year contract, said he wants to remain with the Yankees.
Mattingly had complained about the constant pressure on the players in New York.
"You come here and you play and you get no respect," Mattingly said. "You get money and that's it. That's as far as it goes.
"They think money's respect. Money's not respect."
"It's hard to come to the ballpark if you're not happy playing."