The Oakland Athletics traded pitcher Scott Sanderson to the New York Yankees yesterday after Sanderson agreed to a two-year contract with the Yankees worth more than $4 million.

Sanderson, a 34-year-old right-hander, became a free agent after the season and surprised the Athletics on Dec. 19 when he agreed to salary arbitration, which is the equivalent of re-signing.

Oakland did not want to keep him, so it gave Sanderson a chance to work out a deal with the Yankees, who are desperate for starting pitchers. It was not immediately known what the Yankees were giving Oakland.

Sanderson had a 17-11 record last season with a 3.88 ERA. He was 115-100 in his career.

"Scott would have been perfectly happy to stay in Oakland and is disappointed he won't be," said Richard Moss, the pitcher's agent. "{Oakland general manager} Sandy Alderson had a theory that the batting order is so good that any pitcher can come in and win 17 games."

Sanderson joins a staff that has a possible rotation of Pascual Perez (1-2 in 1990), Tim Leary (9-19) and Andy Hawkins (5-12). The Yankees still are trying to re-sign Mike Witt (5-9) and Dave LaPoint (7-10), who are new-look free agents, and thus free to sign with any team through Jan. 29. Witt has been talking with the Toronto Blue Jays.