The Athletics have agreed to a minor league pact with lefty Barry Zito, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. The deal includes a big league camp invite, per the report. Zito would earn $1MM (with an additional $175K in possible incentives) if he cracks the MLB roster, per a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Now 36, Zito established himself with Oakland beginning in 2000. He would never again regain the effectiveness of his first four campaigns there (768 innings of 3.12 ERA ball), though the southpaw would go on to toss another 662 1/3 frames with a cumulative 4.05 ERA over the following three seasons with the A’s.
Of course, Zito famously jumped across the bay to the Giants thereafter, signing a seven-year, $126MM free agent deal. After generally outpacing his peripherals in Oakland, they caught up to him in San Francisco. He threw plenty of innings with the Giants, racking up 1,139 1/3 over seven campaigns, but allowed 4.62 earned runs per nine over the life of that ill-fated deal — a near-perfect match for his 4.61 FIP.
Zito sat out last season after a rough final contract year. Always a soft-tosser, Zito saw his fastball velocity dip to its lowest-ever point (about 83 mph) in 2013. Presumably, the A’s saw enough to give him a fair shot at earning a roster spot out of camp, though obviously he has plenty to prove before that comes to fruition.