Mussina returns to Yankees with two-year deal
Mike Mussina has won at least 10 games for 15 consecutive seasons. Only one player has a longer active streak:
"This is the Yankees and we have high expectations," he said Monday after finalizing a $23 million, two-year contract. "We expect to not only be in the playoffs every year but do more than just be one of the last eight teams playing."
Mussina went 92-53 with a 3.80 ERA in 187 starts with the Yankees during an $88.5 million, six-year contract, including 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA this year. New York declined a $17 million option two weeks ago, paying a $1.5 million buyout.
"We're happy that we have him back in the fold because quite frankly in this market, I think that he was one of the better pitching commodities available," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "I know he wanted to stay. I think he took less to stay here."
Mike Mussina signed a two-year contract with the Yankees on Monday, giving him at least two more shots at that elusive 20-win season. Mussina has won 239 games, the third-most in major league history among players who never had a 20-win season, behind Dennis Martinez (245) and Frank Tanana (240).
Similarly, Mussina has 92 wins for the Yankees, the third-most in Yankees history among players who never had a 20-win season for the team, behind two old-timers, Ray Caldwell (95, between 1910 and 1918) and Johnny Murphy (93, almost all in relief between 1932-46).
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Mussina gets $11.5 million each of the next two seasons, with $2 million a year deferred without interest, to be paid $1 million annually after the end of the deal.
He turns 38 on Dec. 8 and isn't sure whether this will be his last contract.
"I just want to play out these two years and see how things are," he said. "We'll have to see how I feel and what the situation is. If the situation is not right, then this may be it."
New York's rotation includes Chien-Ming Wang, Mussina and Randy Johnson, who is coming off back surgery and might be behind when spring training starts in mid-February. In addition, Carl Pavano is trying to return from a succession of shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and rib injuries that have sidelined him since June 2005.
Pavano agreed to a $39.95 million, four-year contract with the Yankees in December 2004 and has gone 4-6 for them. Pavano is working out in Arizona, and Cashman anticipates he'll be part of next year's rotation.
"Hopefully, on the back end of this contract, we'll get what we paid for. But because of the money invested, we have to count on him. We have to hope for the best and expect it," Cashman said. "The way this market has exploded financially with the pitchers, I could still obviously feel that we can get great value from a healthy Carl Pavano in terms of production, but we just have to wait and see. You can talk all you want about it, but it's about performance on the field. And I know he's got a lot of pride at stake and he wants to prove to everybody: Don't forget about Carl Pavano and what he's capable of doing."
For now, the candidates for the No. 5 starter are Scott Proctor, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Philip Hughes and Humberto Sanchez. New York also could be interested in free-agent pitchers such as Ted Lilly and Gil Meche.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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