Suddenly, the Yankees' 2013 rotation is in far better shape than a week ago when it was still shrouded in uncertainty.
Andy Pettitte, according to a source, has decided to return. The lefthander and the Yankees on Tuesday were in the process of putting the finishing touches on a one-year deal worth about $11 million.
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The expectation also is that Mariano Rivera, who missed most of last season with an ACL injury, will sign soon, as well.
Rivera, who turns 43 Thursday, told Yankees general manager Brian Cashman earlier this month he wanted to pitch in 2013. The closer is expected to receive a contract with a base salary that is slightly less than the $15 million he made last season.
Both of those signings should become official by week's end.
The impending deal for the 40-year-old Pettitte, 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in a season in which he missed nearly three months with a fractured left ankle, gives the Yankees a solid front end of the rotation: CC Sabathia, followed by Hiroki Kuroda, who agreed to a one-year, $15-million deal early last week.
After Pettitte comes Phil Hughes, with David Phelps and Ivan Nova competing for the fifth spot.
Cashman, under mandate to get the payroll to $189 million by 2014 to avoid steep luxury-tax penalties, didn't want to envision the task of having to piece together a rotation if Kuroda and / or Pettitte weren't back.
The Yankees had hoped to have all three veterans in the fold by the start of the winter meetings, which start Monday in Nashville, and with that goal just about accomplished, Cashman can turn his attention elsewhere.
Among the priorities: reaching an agreement with catcher Russell Martin, who is attracting interest from several teams, including the Red Sox and Rangers. Last offseason, Martin turned down a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $20 million. He still is looking for a multiyear deal.
Martin would appear to have leverage over the Yankees as their everyday catching options are limited. It's difficult to imagine them going into the season with some combination of Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Chris Stewart. But though the club is willing to do a multiyear deal with Martin, it isn't likely to pay him $9 million-$10 million a season.
The Yankees remain in the market for outfield help and have talked to Raul Ibañez and Ichiro Suzuki. A report out of Japan on Tuesday morning stated that Ichiro and the Yankees had reached an agreement but a source said there was "no truth" to it.
Cashman, Bobby V to rappel. For the third straight year, Cashman will rappel down the 22-story Landmark Building in downtown Stamford, Conn. -- near the GM's home in Darien -- as part of the Heights and Lights Holiday Tree Lighting event Sunday. He'll be joined by Bobby Valentine, a Stamford resident, who was fired after one season as the Red Sox manager. Before taking that job, Valentine, a friend of Cashman's, served as Stamford's public safety director.