Details, Yankees' response to be seen

Left-hander Andy Pettitte is on the verge of agreeing to a free-agent contract with the Houston Astros.

Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker said late Wednesday the
discussions with Pettitte's agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, has
been progressing.

The Associated Press reports that a decision could come as early as Thursday.

"We have been working for the last three or four weeks toward
an agreement and we are still on that path,'' Hunsicker said.
"We're optimistic that things are headed in the right direction.

"Hopefully, we can have an announcement in the near future."

However, a source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark on Wednesday night that the Pettitte will give the Yankees one final opportunity to sign him.

The Houston Chronicle, citing industry sources, reported that Pettitte, a winner of 149 games in a nine-year career with the Yankees, has already passed a physical, and Astros owner Drayton McLane and Pettitte's agents are attempting to complete the deal within 24 hours.

According to the Chronicle's sources, some details remained to be worked out and the deal still could fall apart if the Yankees make a last-ditch effort to re-sign Pettitte.

According to numerous reports two weeks ago, the Astros offered Pettitte a three-year contract worth approximately $10 million per season, but McLane denied the club had made an offer.

AP reports that Houston television station KRIV announced Wednesday night that
the Astros had increased their offer to Pettitte by $1 million
making their proposal $31 million over three seasons.

Hunsicker declined to discuss any movement in the negotiations.

McLane has said he doesn't want his budget to top $75 million next season.

Barring a snag, Pettitte would give the Astros a bona fide No. 1 starting pitcher they haven't had in several years. Pettitte would fit nicely into an Astros rotation that already
includes Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller and Tim Redding.

The Astros bullpen already has undergone an upheaval by the loss
of closer Billy Wagner. Octavio Dotel is expected to move from
setup man to closer next season and Brad Lidge will return in a
setup role.

The Astros finished second to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central
by one game.

Pettitte's departure would be a blow for the AL champion Yankees, who had said re-signing him was their No. 1 offseason priority. The Yankees have not made the veteran an offer this offseason.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.