Jon Heyman of SI.com has a brief report stating that the Yankees and Andy Pettite are in “serious talks” and “there is a lot of optimism” that they will reach a deal. Interestingly, Heyman also reports that “Indications are that Pettitte will receive less guaranteed money than the $10 million the Yankees originally had on the table for two months before he turned it down.” A few points. This may or may not be what an actual deal between the two will contain, should they reach one. If accurate, it’s also an indicator that the market is much more team-friendly than player-friendly, which might smack of owner collusion. It’s not out of the realm of possibility and has happened before in the 1980s. It could also be common concerns among owners about revenue streams in a recession. Third, if Pettite signs for less than the initial $10 million, he will join others including Manny Ramirez who (in all likelihood for Ramirez) saw their best offers earlier rather than later in the process. For Pettite, this would be in no small part because of his sub par 2008 (14-14, 4.54 ERA), age, and his late-season shoulder problems. For Ramirez, it would be because he’s a flake and a quitter.
Lastly, I find the wording in Heyman’s short piece intriguing–“guaranteed money.” Yes, contracts have incentive clauses, but might Pettite be willing to take one laden with incentives starting at a lower base salary? We’ll see. Regardless, a rotation of Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, Pettite, and Joba still sounds excellent to me, and would go a long way to solving the rotation depth questions that Pete Abraham rightly raised a couple weeks back.
Pettite is not a $16 million a season pitcher anymore. But he’s a gamer, may well bounce back from his problematic 2008, has stuff that will mix in well with the others, is a second lefty for the rotation, would prevent possibly rushing Hughes and/or Kennedy to the majors again, and he took the ball every fifth day despite a bum shoulder as long as the team was mathematically eligible for the playoffs. Yes to Pettite–for the right price.
[PS Edit: Buster Olney is reporting that Pettite and the Yankees are close to reaching a deal for $6 million in base salary and another $6 million in incentives for a possible total of $12 million.]