Once the New York Yankees were able to sign Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year $15 million contract, the team turned their attention to veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has now signed for one-year and $12 million with up to $2.5 million in incentives and bonuses. His signing means the Yankees have now filled their rotation for the 2013 season and have the ability to choose between David Phelps and Ivan Nova for the fifth starter role versus having to use both of them or go out to the free agent/trade market to fill a void Pettitte would have left behind had he retired.
This is yet another signing for the Yankees which aids them in the process of lowering payroll for the 2014 season, one in which Pettitte would likely not be a part of barring a change in heart for both he and the team.
Pettitte finished the 2012 season with 12 starts (75.1 innings) and a 5-4 record with a 2.87 ERA (3.48 FIP). He produced an impressive 1.7 fWAR in his minimal time on the mound. He came back to the team in May, taking a one-year $2.5 million deal in the process. His season was disrupted when a line drive off the bat of Casey Kotchman broke his ankle causing him to miss almost three months of the season.
Pettitte found himself striking out more batters per nine innings than he had since the 2004 season (8.24). He established career highs in ground ball percentage (56.3 percent) and the rate in which he left runners on base (80.2 percent).
The rotation of CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and either Phelps or Nova, positions the Yankees well in the American League East. Michael Pineda could also contribute at some point during the season, though Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has cautioned against relying on Pineda. With Pettitte back in the mix and ready for Spring Training the Yankees will hopefully get 30-plus starts from the southpaw and if he is anything like last season, he’ll provide substantial benefits to the rotation.
As for Pettitte’s salary, it works out well for the Yankees in the short and long term. Pettitte provides a very reasonable deal should he remotely be the pitcher he was in 2010 or 2012. The one-year term allows the Yankees to go cheaper in 2014 on the assumption that Pettitte will be pitching his final season in 2013.
In order to create breakeven value for the contract amount Pettitte will have to turn in a season worth approximately 2.4 WAR, if 1-WAR is valued at $5 million (which is slightly high but easier to round). If Pettitte reaches his incentive marks he would have to contribute a 2.9 WAR. In 2012, Pettitte recorded 1.7 WAR in just 12 starts so the likelihood of Pettitte adding just 0.7 – 1.2 WAR in 18 or so more starts is very good barring injury.
That is where the risk lies with Pettitte. He is not getting any younger so ailments he suffers will possibly take longer to heal or could threaten his season depending on the ailment. But, Pettitte has the added benefit this season of being a part of Spring Training and it is said that he has already begun his offseason throwing program. In all, the deal is a good one for the Yankees and they will now turn their attention to Mariano Rivera in hopes of entering the Winter Meetings with their top salaries settled.