"Andy's a free agent, and the one thing I've been consistent in saying is that we'd like to have Andy back," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said this week. "I know he'd like to come back. That's set up for maybe a positive end result. It doesn't guarantee it."
The Yankees have offered Pettitte a one-year, $10 million contract, a significant decrease in salary from the $16 million the veteran left-hander made in each of the last two seasons.
Pettitte's representatives, Randy and Alan Hendricks, have discouraged Pettitte from accepting such a large pay cut after turning in a 14-win season for New York in 2008. Pettitte was 14-14 with a 4.54 ERA in 33 starts for the Yankees, but tailed off in the second half, finishing 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in 11 starts after July 31.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he has spoken recently with Pettitte, and has consistently relayed that he wants him to pitch at the new Yankee Stadium in 2009.
Girardi believes that Pettitte's veteran presence and history of winning in New York make him the perfect option to round out the Yankees' pitching staff, which was bolstered by adding CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the returning duo of Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain.
"He's still excited about coming back, and they continue to talk to him," Girardi said. "Obviously it takes time. These things don't happen overnight. He was very excited about the additions and he wants to be here."
No other clubs are known to be seriously courting Pettitte, and the Yankees have backed away from their earlier interest in options like Derek Lowe and Ben Sheets, believing that Pettitte will eventually be in the fold.
Pettitte's brief flirtation with the Red Sox was thought to have been overblown, and the Astros -- the only other club Pettitte has played for in his 14-year career -- are not expected to be a factor at this time.
One intriguing option for Pettitte might have been the Dodgers, which would have returned him to the National League and reunited him with Joe Torre. Though Torre confirmed at the Winter Meetings that he had spoke with Pettitte in November, it was the manager's prediction that Pettitte would eventually return to the Yankees.
"I know he'd like to be here, and I know we'd like to have him here," Cashman said. "Sometimes things take longer. It doesn't mean they're going to happen. He's been a tremendous Yankee and I've got all the respect in the world for him."