Deal still needs to be finalized

Updated: December 12, 2004, 2:08 PM ET news services

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Carl Pavano decided Saturday he wanted to pitch for the Yankees, and his agent and New York closed in on a four-year contract worth about $39 million.

Carl Pavano
Starting Pitcher
Florida Marlins
31 18 8 0 139 3.00

Pavano called his agent, Scott Shapiro, on Saturday morning and informed him of his decision.

"Number one, he wants to win," Shapiro said.

Anaheim, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Seattle also sought the right-hander, 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA for Florida last season.

Shapiro said his next step was to meet with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to finalize an agreement. Pavano and Shapiro met with the Yankees in New York last weekend, and Shapiro was confident a contract would be agreed to.

"We have to really hunker down and have some serious negotiations to hammer out the deal," Shapiro said.

The Yankees expect the agreement will be worth about $39 million, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity, and the contract could contain an option for a fifth season.

Pavano would be the second pitcher New York has added this offseason via free agency. The Yankees' deal with right-hander Jaret Wright -- reportedly for $21 million over three years -- apparently will hold after Wright passed a second physical after failing the first. Wright pitched last season after coming back from two shoulder operations to go 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA for Atlanta.

Pavano had been wooed by the World Series champion Red Sox, with Curt Schilling inviting him to his home last month. A native of New Britain, Conn., he began his professional career in the Boston organization, and was traded to Montreal in the 1997 deal that brought Pedro Martinez to the Red Sox.

"The Red Sox are an incredible organization. Obviously he's got a soft spot in his heart for them," Shapiro said. "It's been a real difficult decision for him. ... It's about Carl being happy where he's living and where he's playing."

Earlier in the day, former Yankee David Wells made a surprising decision to pitch for Boston, reaching a preliminary agreement on an $8 million, two-year contract with the Red Sox that could be worth up to $18 million.

In the AL championship series, New York became the first major league baseball team ever to waste a 3-0 postseason series lead, losing to Boston as its pitching collapsed. The Yankees have made reshaping their rotation a priority, and Pavano would join holdovers Mike Mussina, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown and possibly Wright.

New York also has been talking with left-hander Eric Milton, who wants a $24 million, three-year deal, and could bring back Orlando Hernandez.

Pavano, who turns 29 next month, has been probably the most sought-after of the top-level free-agent pitchers. In addition to New York and Boston, he also visited Detroit and Seattle.

"It was a long process, but Carl is comfortable because he turned over every rock, he gathered all the information possible to make a decision," Shapiro said.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.