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01/19/11 10:28 PM EST

Yankees thought about bringing back Pavano

How close was Carl Pavano to returning to the Yankees' starting rotation?

General manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday that he had conversations with Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, about bringing the right-hander back to the Bronx. Ultimately, those talks may have proved fruitless, as Pavano agreed to a two-year, $16.5 million deal with the Twins.

"I've always felt Pav could pitch here," Cashman said. "I think he's shown that he can pitch in difficult circumstances. Bottom line, if he's healthy, he can pitch."

FOX Sports and ESPN reported that the Yankees went as far as to offer a one-year contract to Pavano, citing unnamed sources.

"I always had great respect for Brian Cashman," Pavano said during a conference call Wednesday announcing his deal with the Twins.

"I still, through the years, have had contact with him, and we've stayed in touch. When they won the World Series, I called him to congratulate him because he was nothing but a class gentleman when I was there. He treated me with a lot of respect, and that shows a lot, that he was going to stick his neck out there for me if something was going to work out."

Pavano, 35, reached 30 starts in 2010 for the second consecutive season, the second time in his 12-year career he's put together two such seasons -- the others came in 2003-04 with the Marlins. Following that season, Pavano signed a four-year, $39 million contract to pitch in New York. Due to several injuries, including Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in '07, Pavano was limited to 26 starts and 145 2/3 innings with the Yankees.

Pavano regained his health after signing with the Indians in 2009, and he split 33 starts between the Tribe and the Twins. He put up one of his finest seasons in 2010, logging 221 innings with a 3.75 ERA. Pavano is 97-89 in his career, spread between five clubs, with a 4.34 ERA.

Cashman said that he still believes Pavano has the fortitude to swim in the boiling fishbowl that is New York.

"Ultimately, I don't think he was afraid to come back here, either," Cashman said. "At the end of the day, we're going to look at every option out there to try and improve our club."

Sunil Joshi is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.