Mussina returns to Yankees with two-year deal

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina has spent six seasons with the
New York Yankees and hasn't won a World Series ring.

"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."

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.