Free agent Jaret Wright and the New York Yankees finalized a $21 million, three-year contract Wednesday, announcing the deal on the pitcher's 29th
"It's probably the best birthday present you could ever get," Wright said on a conference call from California. "I've been looking forward to
something like this for a long time."
Wright was 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA for Atlanta last season, then lost both of his starts in the first round of the playoffs against Houston. The
right-hander is 52-45 with a 5.09 ERA in a career that began in 1997 with Cleveland and nearly ended because of shoulder trouble. Wright and the
Yankees reached a preliminary agreement Dec. 7. Because he twice had surgery on his right shoulder, the Yankees put him through an extensive physical.
"I think everybody would've liked for it to go smoother," Wright said.
Wright said his shoulder has felt fine for three years. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last season represented a "significant step" for
Wright in his emergence as pitcher with power and finesse. Since losing to Boston in the AL championship series, New York also has added free-agent
pitcher Carl Pavano to the rotation and tried to work out a trade for Arizona ace Randy Johnson.
"The belief here is we're going into spring training with a much stronger rotation than we ended last season," Cashman said.
Wright's contract calls for annual salaries of $7 million. If he is on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury for a combined 75 days or more
during the first two years, the Yankees can opt out of his salary for 2007 and pay a $4 million buyout.
If he doesn't go on the DL for 75 days or more because of a shoulder injury during the first two years, the third season becomes a player option. If
Wright decides to end the contract after two years and become a free agent again, he would not get the buyout.
The Yankees have talked a couple of times this week with Arizona about Johnson, but Cashman said, "I have nothing to report on the trade front."
Cashman also said the Yankees probably would decide in the next week how to proceed with free-agent center fielder Carlos Beltran.
"We have to decide if we are going to be a player in this," Cashman said.