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The Yankees are dominating the news from baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indy.  In one busy day, the Yankees completed the rumors Generation Third had already reported on. Andy Pettitte was signed to a one-year deal worth $11.75 Million and the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks completed a 3-team trade that sent all-star center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.

Pettitte was the rock the Yankees needed in their starting rotation to secure another serious run at back-to-back titles.  The Yankees rotation now officially includes CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Pettitte.  The other two slots will be filled by trades, signings and/or Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain.

Granderson was a first-time all-star for the Detroit Tigers in 2009, despite only hitting .249.  He had 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs and is phenomenal on defense.  The Yankees had to give up Triple-A starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, reliever Phil Coke and outfield prospect Austin Jackson to make the trade go through.

I could care less about Kennedy – I don’t think he’ll amount to much (injured too often) but I am a little sad about the loss of Coke, who was a big part of the Yankee bullpen in 2009, and Jackson, who was one of the most respected prospects in the game today.  But, we gotta look at the positive that Granderson brings the Yankees – great defense and speed and power in the  lineup.  He’ll be a great #2 or #6 hitter.  For more information on Granderson, read some posts here from the last few days.

What was not answered today is what the Yankees plan to do with Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.  GM Brian Cashman said that this trade does not affect the Yankees plans with those two, but how could it not?  The Yankees have already made it clear that they intend to cut payroll this season, and I am hard pressed to see how adding Granderson and the $25 Million he is owed between now and 2012 is cutting payroll – unless either Matsui or Damon will not return in 2010.

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ESPN is reporting this afternoon that the Yankees have come to terms with veteran starting pitcher Andy Pettitte on a one year deal worth $11.75 Million.  Pettitte had indicated earlier in the off-season that if he decided to return, it would most likely be for one year and it would be with the Yankees.

This would be Pettitte’s second on-year deal with the World Champion bombers.  Pettitte signed a one-year deal last season with a base salary around $5 Million, but due to his performance, incentives reportedly raised that value to somwhere between $10-12 Million.

This is a good move by the Yankees.  Pettite was 14-8 this past season with a 4.16 ERA.  In the postseason he was a rock on the mound, going 4-0 in 5 starts with a 3.52 ERA.  Over his career, Pettitte is 229-135 with a 3.91 ERA.  He will provide the Yankees with veteran leadership in the clubhouse and a guy who has been fairly consistent over the course of his career.

Pettitte also became the winningest pitcher in the postseason in baseball history after his 4-0 record during the 2009 postseason.

The Yankees announced Tuesday that they are not going to offer arbitration to any of the potential free agents they have, meaning the players are free to sign with any club they want to and that club does not have to worry about giving the Yankees draft picks in return.

For the Yankees, it means that they can set and offer the contract prices they want to for those players and don’t have to rely on what an arbitrator might decide on.  It appears the Yankees feel that this off-season’s free agent market will be the same as last year’s.

Last year, the free agent market did not pay well outside of high-caliber players such as CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe and a few others.  Instead, consistently good players were forced to sign for much lower than in previous years.  For example, Bobby Abreu had to sign with the LA Angels for $5 Million, after a 3 year contract with the Phillies and Yankees that saw him earn $16 Million in his final year of his previous contract.

The Yankees have one Type-A free agent in Johnny Damon.  Had the Yankees offered him arbitration and he signed with another team, they would have received a first or second round draft pick as compensation – but they also would hypothetically have to pay him higher then they might be planning to.

Xavier Nady, Jerry Hairston Jr, Erik Hinske, Andy Pettitte, Jose Molina and Hideki Matsui are all Type-B free agents, meaning the Yankees would have received supplemental round picks for each.

I do think the Yankees have made a smart decision here.  Nostalgia and team pride makes you want the Yankee Brass to keep everyone together, but we all know this is a business and all 7 of those free agents are replaceable.  If it was Derek Jeter in this situation, I’d go nuts about it.  However, when the dust settles, I would like to see at least Matsui and Damon still on the team, at least for the next 1-2 seasons.  I’d offer them both a 1 year contract with a team option for a second year that could become guaranteed based on plate appearances or some other performance measure.

AOL Fanhouse has published its list of the top free agents for this winter. Leading this list is none other than the Angel’s John Lackey, with Matt Holliday and Jason Bay rounding the top three.

For the Yankees, Pettitte is ranked #4, Johnny Damon is ranked #8 and Matsui is #17, one spot after Vlad Guerrero.

I’m gambling that the Yankees go after only Jason Bay. They’re going to save their cash for 2010 when there is a slew of free agents available.

 

Although still unsure if he will retire or return to baseball one more season, Andy Pettitte filed for free agency Thursday.  It’s safe to think that if he does choose to return, it will most likely be with the Yankees – but, you never know for sure.  Pettitte was 14-8 in 32 games with a 4.16 ERA.  This followed a year in which he was 14-14 in 33 games with a 4.54 ERA.

Although I’d love to see him come back, one has to wonder how Pettitte will return in 2010.  The 2009 version wasn’t exactly night-and-day better than the 2008 version.  After a fairly average 2008, the Yankees refused to give him an offer in the 8 digits, instead offering him a $5 Million base salary with opportunities for incentives to bring it up into the 8 digit range.

Pettitte rose to the occasion and captured almost all of his potential salary and he was dominant on the mound in the postseason, becoming the pitcher with the most career wins in the postseason with his 16th win during the playoffs this season.

I would assume his leadership is great to have around the clubhouse and he has a lot to bring to the Yankees, even at 37.  I for one, support bringing him back.

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