A year ago, returning to the Yankees was not necessarily something on Andy Pettitte’s mind as he closed out his first year of retirement. During spring training, his mind changed and he surprised the team by returning after regaining the itch to compete while serving as a guest instructor in spring training.
This time, Pettitte did not wait nearly as long. The Yankees announced Wednesday that Pettitte has signed a one-year deal to return to the team. Conditions of the deal were not released, but multiple sources have said it is for $12 million.
“I expect to make my 34 starts,” Pettitte said in a conference call Wednesday.“I think I can do that. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t try to do this again.
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“I think we’re good enough to go all the way, I do.”
Pettitte never officially committed to coming back during last year, as he went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. During his return, the 40-year-old seemed rejuvenated and enjoying himself even more despite missing nearly three months with a broken left fibula.
“I just think it’s going to be a situation where you, again, just need to go home, see if I want to do this again,” Pettitte said during the playoffs. “It’s great when the family is here, in the summer and my family is here and they’re running around, but it’s not great whenever they’re in Texas and I’m in New York, and it’s a long way back there. You know, it’s just going to be really a matter of if I feel like it’s something that I want to do again.
“I know one thing: I know the competition and the desire to compete is still there, and I don’t feel like I kind of got that itch out from the 70 innings or so that I threw this year. I was expecting to do a little bit more work than that. But we'll see. We'll see how this goes, and then I’ll factor everything probably in.”
Last year, Pettitte made $2.5 million, his lowest salary since earning $600,000 during the 1997 season.
The re-signing of Pettitte occurs a week after the Yankees retained 16-game winner Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year, $15 million contract.
By committing roughly $26 million of next year’s payroll to veteran pitchers who showed they can still pitch, the Yankees avoid the pitfalls that often come with lengthy multi-year deals for starting pitchers.
Though Pettitte made just 12 starts last year, he had 69 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings. That gave him a strikeout rate of 8.24 per nine innings, his highest since 2004 with Houston.
Re-signing Pettitte also sets the rotation barring any other trades. Pettitte will slide in behind CC Sabathia and Kuroda and the other two spots will be occupied by Phil Hughes and whoever wins the spring training battle between Ivan Nova and David Phelps.
After settling on a contract with Pettitte, next up is Mariano Rivera, who is expected to return for another year after suffering a season-ending ACL injury in May. Ichiro Suzuki is also a free agent but has indicated his desire to return to New York after being acquired from the Mariners on July 23.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.