At 40 years old, Andy Pettitte isn’t done pitching just yet.

The New York Yankees starter has decided to return for the 2013 MLB season. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the lefty has agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract with the club. The deal will also pay Pettitte in award bonuses.

Pettitte returned to the Yankees in 2012 after one year away from the game. He was extremely productive in his time on the mound, pitching to a 2.87 earned-run average. He only made 12 starts in the regular season, suffering a fracture in his ankle.

The lefty’s decision to come back for another year is key for the Yankees. New York re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, and will once again have C.C. Sabathia, Pettitte and Kuroda at the front of their rotation. All three starters were solid in the regular season, finishing the year with a sub 3.40 ERA.

New York was swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, but it wasn’t because of their pitching. The Yankees pitching was the only reason why the team had a chance to win the first three games of the series. If their lineup can avoid another historic slump next year, New York might be the favorites to represent the American League in the World Series.

It’s hard to find a rotation that can match the Yankees first three starters. When healthy, they give New York a chance to win every night, and have proven that they can get the job done in the postseason.

New York has reached the playoffs in 17 of the last 18 seasons. They’ve won just one championship since 2001, even though they only missed the postseason once in that time. If Pettitte decided to retire, the Yankees would have been forced to sign a free agent pitcher, or trade for someone to replace the veteran.

The Yankees could have found a suitable replacement with a good regular season track record. However, it’s hard to predict how a new player will perform under the bright lights of the playoffs in the Big Apple. With the team’s success in 162 games, their biggest concern is acquiring talent that will help them win in October.

The offseason has just begun, and the Yankees still have a few moves to make. The organization is confident that Mariano Rivera will return from his torn ACL, but there is no guarantee that the closer will be back at full strength. Free agents like Nick Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki may not be back, and Alex Rodriguez’s future is still up in the air.

The signing of Pettitte, however, is the first step in the Yankees building towards a 2013 title run.