Yankees, Mussina agree on two-year, $23M deal

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina and the New York Yankees reached a
preliminary agreement Monday on a $23 million, two-year contract.

Mussina is scheduled to take a physical Tuesday that would allow
the deal to be finalized. He declined comment on the agreement,
saying he would refrain from any remarks until a telephone
conference call Wednesday.

A right-hander who turns 38 on Dec. 8, Mussina left the
Baltimore Orioles after the 2000 season to sign an $88.5 million,
six-year contract with the Yankees. He was 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA
this year.

New York declined a $17 million option last week, paying a $1.5
million buyout, but the Yankees have said since the end of the
season that they hoped to keep Mussina. Some of the money in his
new contract will be deferred, lowering its present-day value for
purposes of the luxury tax.

New York's current rotation includes Chien-Ming Wang, Mussina
and Randy Johnson. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman hopes Carl
Pavano can return from a string of injuries that have sidelined him
since June 2005, and Cashman said last week that he might have
Scott Proctor prepare for spring training as a starter.

In addition, the Yankees enter spring training with more
prospects than in recent years who could have a chance of making
the rotation. Jeff Karstens impressed in six spot starts last
season and Philip Hughes was 10-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 138
strikeouts in 116 innings for Double-A Trenton. Humberto Sanchez,
obtained from Detroit in the Gary Sheffield trade, was a combined
10-6 with a 2.53 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 123 innings with
Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie.

New York also has been involved in discussions with the agent
for free-agent first baseman Shea Hillenbrand. His agent, Dan
Lozano, said several teams are interested in Hillenbrand and that
discussions have not progressed with any club.