Pettitte returns to Yankees in $16M deal

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor


Associated Press

NEW YORK - Andy Pettitte's new baseball home is one he knows oh so well. Pettitte bolted from his hometown Houston Astros and came back to the Bronx on Friday, reaching a preliminary agreement on a $16 million, one-year contract with the Yankees.
Now that the left-hander has returned to New York, could Roger Clemens be far behind?
"Roger has yet to decide what he wants to do," Randy Hendricks, the agent for both pitchers, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "He has, however, followed the events with Andy and the Astros very carefully."
A day after the winter meetings, former Yankees reliever Octavio Dotel agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, who also agreed to a $4 million, two-year deal with left-hander John Bale. A day earlier, the Royals gave pitcher Gil Meche a $55 million, five-year contract.
"I feel very happy because of the confidence the Royals have shown in me," said Dotel, who picked the Royals over the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays because it gave him the best opportunity to be a closer.
San Francisco agreed to a $3.5 million, two-year contract to keep left-hander Steve Kline, and St. Louis gave right-hander Russ Springer a $1.75 million, one-year deal.
Third baseman Brandon Inge, who would have been eligible for free agency after next season, agreed to a $24 million, four-year contract with the AL champion Detroit Tigers.
"It's awesome to get this done because Detroit is the only place I wanted to play," Inge said. "This organization stuck by me through tough times and for them to still believe in me when times are good, it's really gratifying. The deal is basically done because the only thing that would hold it up would be a problem with the physical that I took, but I can't see that there would be any problem with that."
Also, the Los Angeles Dodgers finalized a $47 million, three-year contract with right-hander Jason Schmidt and a $7.35 million, one-year deal with outfielder Luis Gonzalez, agreements struck during the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Barry Bonds, Schmidt's old San Francisco teammate, gave him a call.
"He's like, 'You're leaving me? I can't believe you're leaving me,'" Schmidt said. "I told him, 'I have to.' We had fun with it. "We got to be pretty good friends while I was in San Francisco."
Late Thursday night, Bonds and the Giants reached a preliminary agreement on a $16 million, one-year contract.
"I'm seeing guys sign for stupid amounts of money and they're not even premier players," San Francisco shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "They're average. You see a guy like Barry Bonds who's been in the record books forever and is an MVP, he's going to get paid."
Across San Francisco Bay, catcher Mike Piazza finalized an $8.5 million, one-year deal to take over from Frank Thomas as the Oakland Athletics' designated hitter.
"Swinging the bat, I'll do what I do: be a complete hitter and be a veteran in the lineup," said Piazza, who had spent his entire big league career in the National League. "I am going to get more at-bats this year ... but ultimately my job is to go out and be a good, solid presence on this team, swing the bat as best I can."
Pettitte's agreement with the Yankees includes a $16 million player option for 2008. Hendricks said Pettitte wouldn't exercise the option if he were hurt and unable to play.
Pettitte must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed the preliminary agreement but declined further comment.
"It's been a brutal several days trying to come to this decision," Pettitte told Houston television station KRIV. "It's been extremely difficult. That's really all I can say right now. It's been an emotional day. It's been an emotional couple of days."
When Pettitte left the Yankees after the 2003 season to sign with the Astros, he felt unwanted by New York. He wasn't sure until this week that he wanted to play another season, but when he heard Houston's offer, he felt unappreciated.
"We told the Astros we would do the same deal at $14 million," Hendricks said. "They have been stuck on $12 (million) and essentially said, 'Take it or leave it.'"
Astros general manager Tim Purpura wouldn't get into numbers but said Pettitte's side made a late request for an option year, which was a deal breaker for Houston.
"When things really changed for us was Wednesday," Purpura said. "The adding of the second year was too wide a gulf for us."
A day earlier, Houston was on the verge of obtaining pitcher Jon Garland from the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Willy Taveras, pitchers Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh. But the deal wasn't announced, perhaps because Chicago didn't like Buchholz's medical reports.
"The aborted Garland trade proves they had no intention of increasing their offer, so there was nothing more to wait for except a decision by Andy, which he made this afternoon," Hendricks said.