11/18/2003 10:34 PM ET
Pettitte meets with Astros
HOUSTON -- The Astros took the first step toward possibly negotiating a contract with Andy Pettitte, one of baseball's top left-handers who also happens to make his home in nearby Deer Park, Texas.
Pettitte and his agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, met with general manager Gerry Hunsicker and club owner Drayton McLane on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. The meeting, according to Hunsicker, was a "getting to know you" session, one during which salary figures were not discussed.
"It was not a negotiating meeting," Hunsicker said. "It was very cordial, very informative. We both gained some insight toward each other. We talked about the Houston Astros, where we are, where we're headed."
And the Astros could be headed for their second splashy free-agent signing in as many years, should they come to a contract agreement with Pettitte. One year ago, the Astros signed second baseman Jeff Kent to a two-year deal with an option for a third year. That transaction was touted as the biggest free-agent signing since Nolan Ryan nearly 25 years ago, and signing Pettitte, a 21-game winner in 2003 who finished sixth in Cy Young voting, would have a similar impact in the Bayou City.
"We had a productive meeting with the Astros today," said Randy Hendricks in an e-mail message.
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Pettitte, 31, has a record of 149-78 with a 3.94 ERA over his nine-year Yankees career that includes 23 complete games and 1,275 strikeouts. The left-hander has four World Series rings (1996 and 1998-2000).
Although Pettitte appears to be intrigued by the Astros, he has said on a number of occassions he's still interested in possibly re-signing with the Yankees. And according to the Associated Press, the Red Sox also have contacted the Hendricks brothers about Pettitte, a person familiar with the talks said on the condition of anonymity. Boston general manager Theo Epstein declined comment.
Tuesday's meeting in Houston confirms only that Pettitte and the Astros are willing to explore their options.
"I can't speak for Andy, but I don't think the meeting would have taken place if there wasn't interest on both sides," Hunsicker said. "We gained insight as to who Andy Pettitte is as a person, what his concerns and goals are. I believe everybody left the meeting feeling good about things. We'll digest what happened today and go from there."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Mark Feinsand, a reporter for MLB.com, and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.