NEW YORK -- One of George Steinbrenner's proposals for Darryl Strawberry's contract that kept the slugger from joining the New York Yankees, as scheduled, on Sunday would have subjected Strawberry's children to drug tests as beneficiaries of a trust created with his Yankee salary.
Another would have given the club the right to release Strawberry if he violated a deal the owner wanted him to make with the Internal Revenue Service.
Strawberry's agent rejected those proposals and others, people familiar with the dispute said. But talks between the two sides yesterday led several people to say they were closing in on an agreement, and one person said he expected Strawberry to join the team later this week.
Bill Goodstein, Strawberry's agent, had a series of telephone conversations with David Sussman, the Yankees' executive vice president and general counsel, and Lonn Trost, an outside lawyer representing the club. The talks continued into the evening.
Asked about the reports from other people that they were moving closer to resolving the dispute, Sussman said: "I remain optimistic that we'll be able to resolve this because we've never been far apart. The key elements of the contract have been in place and never were in dispute. What is left are these other issues, and we're working on them."
One person familiar with the talks said that whatever agreement they wound up with, the Yankees would not be in a position to allocate Strawberry's salary. Goodstein would handle everything, the person said.
Goodstein had said Sunday that he would file a grievance with the Major League Baseball Players Association over what he said were the Yankees' efforts to change their agreement and the club's refusal to recall Strawberry from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. But no grievance was filed as the two sides kept talking.
Last night, Strawberry hit two bases-empty home runs in a 15-2 win over the Norfolk Tides. He has five minor-league homers during his rehab.