As Lenny reported this morning, pitcher Andy Petttitte has rejected the Yankees initial offer of a supposed one year, $10MM contract. With incentives and escalators included, Andy made about $10.5 million last year, so a base salary of $10MM shouldn’t be too unappetizing to Pettitte.
While he has remained incredibly consistent throughout his entire career, he isn’t exactly getting younger. There are also some numbers–K/9, BB/9, K/BB, FIP, tRA–that trended the wrong way for Pettitte in 2009. $10MM may not sound like a lot for a pitcher of Pettitte’s consistent caliber, but in this market, it’s definitely fair.
I’m not saying that the Yankees should skip out on Andy because of the rejection of this first offer, but they should definitely set a limit as to how high they’re going to go with him. What Andy does–provide a good amount of innings at around (or usually better than)league average production–is definitely valuable and something the Yankees could easily use. A rotation of Sabathia/Burnett/Pettitte/Chamberlain/Hughes would be one of the tops in the American League, and the first three could easily reach 200 innings each.
Pettitte is definitely a fan favorite for good reason. However, that doesn’t mean the Yankee front office should allow him to dictate the negotiations. Andy’s made it clear he wants to pitch for the Yankees and the Yankees should and do want him. At a certain point, though, they’ll have to cut the cord. If I’m Brian Cashman, I’m willing to go no higher than $13MM. If Pettitte rejects that, I tell him good luck in his search for a job and take that money and spend it elsewhere. Where? On pitching, of course. As Lenny also noted in his post, the Yankees could be interested in Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, or Rich Harden if Pettitte is not back in the Bronx in ’10. I’ve said before that I’d like to see J-Dukes on the Yankees in 2010 and I’ve also said I don’t see Harden and Sheets as good fits. However, if Andy Pettitte and the Yankees do not come to an agreement, I would like to see the Yankees go after two of those pitchers.
Let’s play the hypothetical game and assume Pettitte and the Yankees do not match up on a deal and Pettitte walks. The Yankees then go out and sign two of the aforementioned starters. That’s six guys (remember CC, A.J., Joba, and Phil) for five spots. Playing management, I’d tell the two of them–let’s say it’s Sheets and Harden–that they’ll be competing for the third starter’s job in Spring Training. Whoever “wins” is the third starter, whoever “loses” is the long-man/sixth starter out of the bullpen who can fill in if there’s an injury or one of the starters is ineffective.
The perfect scenario for the 2010 Yankees is the rotation I mentioned above of Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes, and Chamberlain. However, the Yankees should not be willing to do whatever it takes to get that rotation. Once Pettitte starts asking for too much, the Yankees should begin to look elsewhere.