Yes, it seems to be true. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees' people really were talking to Carl Pavano's people. It's not clear how strong the Yankees' interest was, or Pavano's; they wouldn't go more than one year, and his agent might simply have been looking for leverage against the Twins. Still ...
- According to one source, the Pavano camp made frequent contract with the Yankees, expressing a desire for the pitcher to return. The Yankees, though, were mindful of Pavano's history with the team and unwilling to forfeit a first-round draft pick by signing him - a sacrifice they later made for free-agent reliever Rafael Soriano.
Yet, the return of Pavano would not have been completely without logic.
[Brian] Cashman defended Pavano throughout the pitcher’s injury-filled tenure with the Yankees. Pavano, who has averaged 210 innings the past two seasons, offered durability that the Yankees currently are lacking.
Still, Pavano’s willingness to rejoin the team was surprising. Fans, media and even teammates criticized him heavily during his time in New York. But he was willing to risk such criticism again.
If I were 8 years old and my heroes were baseball executives rather than baseball players, I would have a Brian Cashman Fathead on my bedroom wall. Cashman was heroic in defending Pavano during his time with the Yankees, and he's heroic for considering bringing Pavano aboard once again. Many general managers, and perhaps most of them, would not have done either thing.
There's something heroic about Pavano, too, isn't there? Pavano was a Yankee for four years, and pitched the grand total of 146 innings. You might have excused him for getting discouraged, even giving up. Maybe he did give up once or twice, and maybe he wasn't as tough as he might have been. Those fans and writers and radio hosts and even teammates probably thought so.
But he didn't give up, ultimately. He finally did get healthy, and just finished pitching 420 innings in two years. In a playoff game against the Yankees in 2009, he pitched seven fine innings and struck out nine Yankees. Can't handle the pressure? Really?
Two years ago, Carl Pavano was supposedly a shining example of one thing. Today, he's a shining example of another. I was actually sort of hoping that he'd pitch for the Yankees again, just because it would have been a fantastic story. With two heroes.