This is a shocker: the New York Yankees have signed their former great Andy Pettitte to a minor league deal. The 39 year-old Pettite (will be 40 in June) retired after the 2010 season with the Yankees.
Aside from a three year stint with the Astros in the middle part of the last decade, Pettitte spent his entire career with the Yankees. He has 240 career wins, a 3.88 ERA, and has amassed 67.0 career fWAR. Pettite is 14th all-time among pitchers in fWAR over the last 90 years, and he could conceivably pass both Tom Glavine and Dennis Eckersley to jump into the top 12. Among the top 12, all are Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers, with the exception of Kevin Brown (inexplicably).
Now, what does Pettitte’s signing mean for the 2012 Yankees? He obviously won’t be ready for Opening Day, but with Michael Pineda’s velocity concerns and the chronic injury problems suffered by Phil Hughes, he could easily be able to slot into a rotation slot. When I wrote about the Yankees rotation on Wednesday, a large majority of the poll respondents preferred this year’s Yankees rotation as opposed to last year’s. Add Pettitte into that mix, and the Yankees could have a much better rotation. But there’s always the possibility that Pettite struggles early on, or even just outright quits once he starts getting back into the major league grind.
Adding a pitcher the caliber of Pettitte’s could really help New York, but at the same time, assuming that he’s going to be the same pitcher that he was in his prime would be silly. If the Yankees got 2.0 fWAR out of Pettitte and maybe 120-150 innings, I think that would have to be considered a success for the returning veteran.