Pettitte, Yanks agree on 1 year, $5.5M

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte's only thought was to stay with the New York Yankees. He had no interest in returning to his hometown Houston Astros.

Still, the 36-year-old left-hander was bothered when the Yankees wanted to cut his salary from $16 million to $10 million.

"Heck, the bottom line is I'm a man, and I guess it does take a shot at your pride a little bit," he said. "But when you put all that aside, I wanted to play for the New York Yankees and, you know, that was the bottom line. I wanted to be there. I wanted to play in that new stadium."

After months of stalled negotiations, Pettitte and the Yankees agreed Monday to a $5.5 million, one-year contract. While the guaranteed money is less than half New York's original $10 million offer, he can make an additional $6.5 million in bonuses: $4.5 million based on innings and $2 million based on days on the active roster. He would earn the entire amount if he pitches 210 innings and doesn't go on the disabled list.

"If in fact Andy does in 2009 what he's done before, he'll actually make more money, so in that case we would have no regrets," said the pitcher's agent, Randy Hendricks. "If things would go wrong, we might be in position to say maybe we should have taken the left fork in the road instead of the right fork in the road. But that is, as Andy said, part of life and part of negotiations."

New York withdrew its first offer in December after agreeing to a $180 million, eight-year deal with first baseman Mark Teixeira, a contract that, combined with agreements for pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, raised the Yankees' spending spree to $423.5 million for three players.

Pettitte met in Texas with general manager Brian Cashman on Dec. 11 and told him he would be willing to accept performance bonuses. The sides kept on talking.

"It just got to the point where Randy called me and said, 'I think this is it, buddy,'" Pettitte said. "It didn't take me long to decide because I knew that was where I was going to play."

Pettitte might have been able to get a multiyear deal from another club.

"I could have made an awful lot more money than what I signed for," he said.

He joins a starting rotation that already includes Sabathia, Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke are available in the event of injuries or if Chamberlain shifts back to the bullpen.

"He's going to be someone a lot of these guys on the block can lean on," Cashman said.

The deal raised the Yankees' projected Opening Day payroll to $196.8 million for 17 players with agreements. That doesn't include reliever Brian Bruney, who is in arbitration and will make between $1.1 million and $1.55 million.

"It was a great offseason. We should have the best rotation in baseball and, hopefully, the bullpen will do as well as it did last year," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said. "We also have a terrific lineup."

Steinbrenner ruled out any attempt to sign Manny Ramirez.

"We're out of it," he said.

Pettitte pitched for the Yankees from 1995-2003, helping them win four World Series titles, then spent three seasons with Houston. He returned to the Yankees in 2007 and was 14-14 with a 4.54 ERA last season, his highest ERA since 1999.

Pitching with a sore shoulder, he was 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in his final 11 starts, beating Baltimore in the last game at old Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21.

Cashman doesn't anticipate any more significant moves for the Yankees during the offseason. He also doesn't think the increased spending creates more pressure on himself and manager Joe Girardi.

"I feel the heat. I've always felt the heat. I've never not felt the heat," Cashman said. "Do I think it's any hotter now than it was before? No. But do I feel it every day? Yeah, I do."


Cashman is paying special attention to closer Mariano Rivera and catcher Jorge Posada, both coming off shoulder surgery. Posada was in New York on Monday for a checkup. "We will definitely go into spring training and as we enter the '09 season with concerns about the health of two extremely important positions on any team that wants to get to the promised land," Cashman said.