The defending A.L. East champions took a significant step towards fortifying their inactive roster for 2012 and beyond when they reached a two-year, $20 million agreement to bring right-hander Carl Pavano back to the Bronx.

Pavano is coming off a 2011 campaign that saw him go 9-13 with a 4.30 ERA for the Minnesota Twins. He also led the American League in hits allowed with 262 in 222.0 innings, his most pitched since 2004. At the age of 35, Yankees’ brass believe he is primed for a breakdown and pounced when the opportunity presented itself.

“This was a no-brainer,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. “The inactive roster poses a challenge to any professional athlete, and Carl has already demonstrated that he is uniquely capable of dealing with the pressures of inactive roster occupancy. He’s also intimately familiar with the hospitals in the New York metropolitan area.”

Pavano’s agents released a statement describing the deal as a “perfect fit coming at the perfect time,” and professing their confidence that the Yankees would get “exactly what they paid for.”

The deal is contingent upon Pavano’s self-examination, and includes a club option for 2014.