NEW YORK (AP) _ Although Dave Winfield ripped Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in his book last spring, it was not the final chapter of Winfield's career in New York.

The Yankees on Thursday notified Winfield's agent, Jeff Klein, that the team wouldn't exercise its right to buy out the final two years of Winfield's 10-year, $18.4 million contract. The Yankees had until Saturday to buy out the contract for about $2 million.

Winfield will make $1,858,651 in 1989, the same base salary as this year. He made an additional $25,000 in 1988 for being selected to the American League All-Star team. His salary will be adjusted for inflation in 1990.

Winfield led the Yankees with a .322 batting average this season, hit 25 homers and drove in a team-leading 107 runs, fifth in the American League.

He was not reachable Thursday but Klein said ''it was expected. Dave's very happy the Yankees want him the next two years.''

The relationship between Winfield and Steinbrenner has been stormy. When the Yankees faded from the pennant race in 1985, Steinbrenner criticized Winfield's performances at key times, saying: ''Has anybody seen Reggie Jackson? I need Mr. October. All I have is a Mr. May, Dave Winfield.''

In his book, published just before the start of the season, Winfield accused Steinbrenner of lying to him and withholding payments to the Winfield Foundation.

Steinbrenner in turn blasted Winfield, saying ''usually a guy writes a book when he's coming to the end of his career and he realizes his physical attributes aren't what they once were, his performance levels aren't what they once were.''

The Yankees owner tried to trade Winfield but then said he was one of the few players not to blame for the team's late-season collapse this year.