NEW YORK (AP) – The Texas Rangers emerged Thursday as the chief competitor for the New York Yankees in their bid to sign reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who appears to be waiting for Tom Gordon to escalate his price.

The Yankees think they are the leading contender to sign Farnsworth, who likely will command $17 million to $19 million over three years.

Gordon is trying to get a three-year deal, probably in the $18 million range. The Yankees are trying to re-sign Gordon as a setup man for Mariano Rivera, while Cleveland and Philadelphia are interested in having Gordon return to his former role as a closer.

New York, whose setup men frequently struggled last season, would like to sign both Gordon and Farnsworth.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz said a Farnsworth representative called him Wednesday night and said the right-hander would not return to Atlanta and would sign with the Yankees.

“That is accurate, that’s what we were told,” Schuerholz said Thursday, confirming remarks he made a day earlier to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We received a call yesterday and, cut and dried, that’s what was said. That’s all I’ll say about it.”

But the Rangers were told Thursday that they remain in contention, a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were ongoing.

“We’ve got multiple free agent offers out there that we’re hoping to have answers on sooner than later, but I’m not certain that those will come to a head by the end of (next) week,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said, without mentioning specific players.

Farnsworth’s agent, Barry Meister, declined to comment on Schuerholz’s remarks.

The Yankees held a lengthy internal conference call, with team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman in New York and Florida-based officials participating from Tampa.

The Florida group was believed to have included owner George Steinbrenner along with top aides Mark Newman, Billy Connors, Damon Oppenheimer and Bill Emslie.

AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins in Arlington, Texas, and Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report

AP-ES-12-01-05 2146EST

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