Multiple sources are reporting that the Yankees and Pettitte have agreed on a one-year, $11.75 million contract on Wednesday, just days after Pettitte made it known that he wanted to continue playing for a 16th big league season. That announcement and the attached implication that he'd only be pitching for the Yankees made his return a question of money and this is a deal both sides can be happy about.
After reaching incentives, Pettitte made $10.5 million in 2009. He earned all of those dollars by bouncing back from a subpar 2008 season to become a vital cog in the championship effort. He won 14 games in the regular season, threw 194.2 innings and iced the cake by winning four of his five postseason starts. The raise may be modest, but for a soon-to-be 38-year-old who made it clear he wanted to pitch for the Yankees and only the Yankees it wasn't going to get much better.
For the Yankees, it's a good deal because it now enables them to play the rest of the offseason with leverage over trading partners and free agents. Negotiations with Pettitte dragged on deep into last offseason's shopping season. Without a CC Sabathia on the market this time, however, the Yankees needed greater certainty about the team they'll take to Tampa when Spring Training gets underway.
They don't need to desperately bid to trade for Roy Halladay or sign John Lackey, because they know that they're returning the three starters that carried them to a 27th title. Tuesday's trade for Curtis Granderson will have a similar effect on their pursuit of other offensive pieces, including Johnny Damon.
That leverage extends to their rivals who might now be feeling the pressure to keep up with the Yankees. The Red Sox signed Marco Scutaro to play shortstop, but it is hard to see how that puts them in a better position to challenge a team that, right now, looks as good or better than the one that just paraded down the Canyon of Heroes. The same holds for the rest of the American League, which now needs to play catch-up against a team with a sizable head start.