12/09/09 8:07 PM EST
Pettitte, Yanks complete new deal
Veteran left-hander to return for 13th season in pinstripes
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The 37-year-old left-hander agreed to terms on a one-year, $11.75 million contract with the Yankees on Wednesday, representing a pay raise after he helped secure his fifth World Series championship with the organization.
"It's great," Pettitte said. "I wanted to go home and get this decision behind me and just move forward. I didn't want to hold the Yankees up in any way. It's nice to just get it wrapped up as quick as we did."
Pettitte was one of the Yankees' most durable and reliable starters through the season, going 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA in 32 starts before becoming the first pitcher to start and win the clinching game in all three postseason rounds.
Even Pettitte had to admit that the ending had been so perfect, he wondered at times what he would be coming back for. But with his family in support of spending another season in stadiums across the country, Pettitte sent word to the Yankees over Thanksgiving weekend that it was time to talk.
"For me, I couldn't have written a script any better than last year ended," Pettitte said. "What else is there to do? Why would you even continue to play? But I want to make sure I'm done. I want to make sure I fully exhaust myself and I don't want to regret not playing. I want to come back and help this organization win another one."
"Laura's gotten to the point where she knows, 'Let's just get home and get through the postseason,'" Pettitte said. "I was so locked in and trying to get through that. We just kind of laid low for about the first seven or 10 days that I got home. The boys always expressed how badly they wanted me to continue to play."
The two-time All-Star is 229-135 with a 3.91 ERA, and his 192 wins as a Yankee ranks him third in franchise history behind Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. With the most wins (18), starts (40) and innings pitched (249) in postseason play, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said it is a sigh of relief to have Pettitte back.
"We've done OK so far. We're happy," Cashman said. "Andy was the first priority, and it gives me a comfort level knowing that I have that to go along with what I've already got. We like our team."
Pettitte's new deal is guaranteed, a major issue after he admitted that he was not ecstatic after signing with New York last January, when the Yankees had already committed large sums to CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira.
In 2009, Pettitte earned a base salary of $5.5 million, fulfilling approximately $5 million in additional performance-based incentives -- $3 million in bonuses based on his 194 2/3 innings pitched, and $2 million for staying on the active roster the entire season, missing only one start in September because of left shoulder fatigue.
Because the season stretched into November, Pettitte said he is considering pushing his throwing back two weeks to around Jan. 15, something he will discuss with pitching coach Dave Eiland soon. But Pettitte is expecting that he'll be ready to go in the spring.
"I felt strong at the end of the season," Pettitte said. "I didn't have any problems at all in that last [World Series Game 6] start on three days' rest. I know I've got a lot of innings on my body in a short period of time."
Pettitte's return gives the Yankees a solid No. 3 starter to file in behind Sabathia and Burnett in the rotation, filling another objective as Cashman continues to work through the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.
Though a trade for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is still among the possible scenarios that could play out, the Yankees envision heading into Spring Training with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes among their rotation options rather than writing big checks for a free agent like John Lackey.
"The starting pitching market is a headache," Cashman said. "That's why I'm very happy that we got Andy done, because I have less of a headache. I'm not saying we don't have more needs there, but looking at some of the price tags there, we might have to wait that thing out or refocus."
Cashman has said that the Yankees have also focused on assembling organizational depth and could add second-tier options from the free-agent market, which could put them in good position as the days tick off until Opening Day.
"There's no doubt you can never have too much pitching," Pettitte said. "I know the Yankees are always trying to get better as an organization, always trying to prepare for the future. If they can swing another deal for another arm, that's not going to do anything but help us have an opportunity to win another championship. That would be great."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.