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12/09/07 11:30 PM ET

Yankees reach deal with Hawkins

Veteran right-hander likely to fill setup role in bullpen

NEW YORK -- The Yankees moved forward to bolster their bullpen on Sunday, reaching a preliminary agreement with reliever LaTroy Hawkins on a one-year, $3.75 million contract.

The deal was reported by the Associated Press and is subject to Hawkins passing a physical. A baseball official familiar with the negotiations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the transaction, which has not been officially announced.

The right-handed Hawkins, who turns 35 on Dec. 21, was 2-5 with a 3.42 ERA with the National League champion Colorado Rockies this past season. He is expected to fill the role of right-hander Luis Vizcaino, who declined the Yankees' offer of salary arbitration last week. Vizcaino, who is seeking a multiyear contract, is expected to sign elsewhere.

Hawkins will be joining his fifth Major League team, having spent nine seasons of his 13-year career with the Twins. The Twins and Rangers also had expressed interest.

A workhorse who has appeared in 60 games or more in eight straight seasons, Hawkins also has pitched for the Cubs, Giants and Orioles. During the 2007 season, Hawkins appeared in 62 games for the Rockies, allowing 52 hits in 55 1/3 innings. He walked 16 and struck out 29.

The Yankees have identified bolstering their bullpen as one of their main priorities in this period of the offseason, having already stepped up and stepped back in the hunt for Twins ace Johan Santana. New York soon will officially announce a three-year, $45 million agreement with closer Mariano Rivera, but much of the bridge leading up to the future Hall of Famer is unclear.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said he is not intrigued by repeated offers from other clubs to obtain setup man Kyle Farnsworth, who could slot back into his eighth-inning role that was filled in the season's final two months by rookie Joba Chamberlain.

Along with Farnsworth, Hawkins also could help set up for Rivera, a task that was met with varied results by Vizcaino, who was a large help some months and ineffective in others. Aside from those two veterans, the Yankees may have open auditions for bullpen roles in Spring Training, a competition venue that new manager Joe Girardi said he will embrace.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.