Garcia, Yankees reach agreement

Pitcher Freddy Garcia has agreement in principle to return to New York Yankees in 2012 .

The Yankees will bring back veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia for another year, banking that he can repeat a surprisingly effective 2011 season in which he emerged as one of New York's most dependable starters.

The 35-year-old has agreed in principle to a one-year deal that will pay him somewhere between $4 million and $5 million guaranteed, with the possibility for more in performance incentives, according to a Yankee official close to the talks.

A physical is still pending, but Garcia is expected to pass. The Yankees already know his medicals better than any other team.

Garcia's return means the Yankees have the semblance of a 2012 rotation. While they will continue to shop, and are certainly considering high-end talents like C.J. Wilson, it is entirely possible they go into next season with a rotation of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Garcia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes.

If they do not sign a big-name pitcher, it is almost certain that the Yankees will seek additional rotation depth to compete with Hughes, in the same way they brought in Garcia as a low-risk, high-reward candidate in the spring of last year.

Garcia came to New York on an incentive-laden contract without a guaranteed roster spot, and succeeded beyond anyone's imagination. He posted a 3.62 ERA, the third-lowest of his 13-year career, despite pitching in the difficult American League East.

Still, Garcia's shoulder is not what it used to be, and neither is his fastball. He used to throw in the mid-90s, but his fastball now sits in the mid-to-high 80s, and he succeeds with guile and intelligence rather than power. But he has proved to be healthy and dependable, only hitting the disabled list once in 2011 -- for a cut on his finger.

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