Barry Zito Rumors

West Notes: Zito, Flores, Wood

With Aaron Brooks headed to Triple-A Nashville, the Athletics will need a starter sometime in the next few days. That could be A’s veteran Barry Zito, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 2002 AL Cy Young winner and three-time All-Star hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since 2013, but he’s pitched 137 innings for Triple-A Nashville this year, posting a 3.48 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. Zito had been scheduled to start for the Sounds on Saturday, but Sean Nolin will take the ball instead, and Zito is no longer listed among the Sounds’ upcoming probable pitchers. Zito has also briefly missed time recently with a shoulder injury, althoug Slusser characterizes that issue as “extremely minor.” Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Mariners outfielder Ramon Flores has a compound fracture in his ankle and will miss the rest of the season, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. As Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto tweets, Flores left yesterday’s game on a cart after falling while trying to make a play in the field. The Mariners acquired Flores with Jose Ramirez late last month when they traded Dustin Ackley to the Yankees. The 23-year-old Flores was off to a terrific start with Tacoma, batting .423/.524/.654 with eight extra-base hits and 11 walks in 63 plate appearances.
  • The Dodgers lost their first two games with new trade acquisition Alex Wood on the hill, but he picked up his first win with them yesterday against the Reds, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. Mat Latos, the Dodgers’ other starting pitching acquisition in that trade, had also struggled, so Wood’s victory likely came as a welcome sign for the Dodgers. Wood says his outlook hasn’t changed significantly since arriving from Atlanta, however. “For me, and I can probably speak for the other guys too, the expectations everywhere you go are high,” he says. “[Y]ou’ve got to come in and you have to perform … Not just to be a contributor or make trades look good or bad but to stay here and be a part of it, you know?

West Notes: Gwynn, Odor, Zito

Today marks the 55th birthday of Padres great Tony Gwynn, a birthday that provides opportunity for reflection after Gwynn’s untimely death from cancer last June. Gwynn’s son Tony Gwynn Jr., currently an outfielder for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in the Nationals system, says he had trouble coming up with a specific tribute to his father for his team’s game against Durham today, Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The younger Gwynn notes that his father’s general policy was to “show up, do your job and go home.” Gwynn Jr. did, however, end up with two singles in five at-bats, which seems about right as a nod to his dad. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers‘ outright of Mike Kickham seems like a minor one, but it could portend more transactions in the near future, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. The move could clear space on the Rangers’ 40-man for infielder Ed Lucas, who could take over for Rougned Odor at second base, Wilson suggests. Delino DeShields could also see time at second, although probably not in a regular or even platoon role. The 21-year-old Odor has hit a meager .144/.252/.233 so far this season, while the 32-year-old Lucas has hit .316/.381/.421 for Triple-A Round Rock.
  • Barry Zito, who’s with the Athletics‘ Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, is still adjusting to life in the minor leagues, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes. “I had to re-calibrate mentally and embrace the competition. It was definitely tough, and travel in the PCL is very difficult,” says Zito. “You’re up at 3 a.m., usually flying with a layover, to play a game that day. We’ve already sat on a tarmac in Abilene, Texas. There’s all kinds of shenanigans (with) commercial flights.” Zito, who turns 37 this week, has a 5.74 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings for Nashville as he attempts to make it back to the big leagues after a year away from the game.

Minor Moves: Tomas, Oliver, Brignac, Zito

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
  • Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
  • Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
  • Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
  • The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
  • The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
  • The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
  • The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
  • The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.

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AL Notes: Giavotella, Zito, Madson

Now with the Angels, infielder Johnny Giavotella is hoping for another chance in the Majors, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Giavotella collected 465 plate appearances in parts of four seasons with the Royals, but never quite caught on, hitting .238/.277/.334 in the process before joining the Angels in a minor trade this winter. “In my opinion, Triple-A to the big leagues is the biggest jump, and there is an adjustment period to be had,” Giavotella says. “I never feel like I got that adjustment period to fail and make that adjustment.” Giavotella, who is out of options, is competing with Josh Rutledge, Grant Green and Taylor Featherston for the Angels’ second base job, which opened when the team traded Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Barry Zito now looks like a legitimate long relief option for the Athletics, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes. “You take a year off … It’s pretty impressive what he’s doing,” says A’s manager Bob Melvin. After a year away from the game following an ugly 2013 season with the Giants, Zito signed a minor-league deal with the Athletics hoping to reestablish himself. He’s still hopeful he can make the team as a starter, although Stiglich suggests the bullpen is more likely.
  • Another minor-league signee, Ryan Madson, has impressed the Royals in camp, writes Doug Miller of MLB.com. “To come in, you look at it as a flyer, and then you watch and he’s got his fastball back up to 91, 92, he’s always had that devastating change. He’s a pretty interesting guy,” says manager Ned Yost. Miller notes that Madson, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011, likely won’t make the Royals out of camp, but he could be a name to watch after he’s spent some time at Triple-A Omaha.

AL Notes: Rodon, Hamilton, Zito

Top 2014 White Sox draft pick Carlos Rodon could receive more attention in Spring Training with ace Chris Sale out with an avulsion fracture, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Chris Beck, Scott Carroll, Brad Penny and Francellis Montas could also get extra looks. GM Rick Hahn emphasizes, however, that the timing of Rodon’s eventual promotion to the big leagues will be dictated by how ready he is, not by a vacancy in the rotation. After racing through the minor leagues and getting all the way to Triple-A after signing last year, Rodon appears close to being ready, although he only has a total of nine minor-league outings under his belt. Here’s more from the American League.

  • The terms of Josh Hamilton‘s likely suspension following his relapse are, clearly, secondary to the relapse itself, and what’s most important is Hamilton’s recovery. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez notes, though, that the impending suspension could have implications for the Angels‘ payroll. The team will save about $126K for every day Hamilton is suspended. They’ll also save the prorated portion of the Hamilton contract’s $25MM average annual value against the luxury tax threshold. It’s probably too late for them to use any of that money on free agents, but Gonzalez notes that they could spend it on players they add in-season. Gonzalez also writes that Hamilton’s suspension would begin at the start of the season, when he could still be rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
  • Barry Zito will appear in his first game action since 2013 when he faces the Cubs in Cactus League action on Thursday, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Zito is in camp on a minor-league deal with the Athletics after taking a year off following the Giants’ decision to decline his 2014 option. “I have a fresh perspective,” he says. “I’ve got my passion back, and I just want to continue to work hard and go out and enjoy competing. I guess you could say I’m competing against all these guys, but for me, it’s more about competing against myself.”

Athletics To Sign Barry Zito To Minors Deal

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.


Central Links: McCutchen, Zito, Albers, Herndon

The expensive costs of youth travel leagues are an obstacle to attracting young talent to baseball, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen writes in a piece for The Players Tribune.  The full scholarships provided by college basketball or football make them more appealing sports than the long, usually financially-unrewarding path to the majors that the vast majority of prospects face — McCutchen himself admits that, were it not for an ACL tear when he was 15, he would’ve likely pursued NCAA football and not been a big league star today.  He argues that kids from low-income families need more entry points into the game, with one possible solution being a new system similar to the academy program for international prospects.

Here’s the latest from around the NL and AL Central divisions…


Pitching Notes: Porcello, Aardsma, Albers, Zito

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello figures to present a fascinating free agent case, as Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes. The righty will enter free agency in advance of his age-27 campaign and remains a candidate to put up a big year in Boston. Even if he ends up with more typical results than a true breakout, and even accounting for robust market supply, his age could make him a $100MM player, in Petriello’s view.

Here are a few notes on some of the few remaining current free agents:

  • Reliever David Aardsma pushed his velocity up to 92 mph in a recent showcase in front of eighteen scouts, MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports (Twitter links). The 33-year-old has not seen MLB action since 2013, but worked to a 1.46 ERA with better than a strikeout per inning last year at Triple-A with the Cardinals organization. He is expected to choose a team in the near future.
  • Fellow righty Matt Albers also threw for teams recently, as already reported, and the Indians were among those in attendance, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland also had a look at lefty Barry Zito, who threw for observers yesterday.
  • Speaking of prior reports on Albers and Zito, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle — who broke the news last night — tweets today that Astros owner Jim Crane says the team could bring in Zito with a spring training invite. Drellich cautions that it still seems unlikely that Zito will land with Houston.

Barry Zito, Matt Albers Held Workouts Tuesday

Veteran free agents Matt Albers and Barry Zito held separate pitching sessions in Houston on Tuesday, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Astros were in attendance for Zito’s workout but did not watch Albers throw, he adds.

It’s unclear how many clubs were in attendance for Zito’s Tuesday showing, but Drellich notes that four to five teams have seen him. Previous reports have indicated that the A’s won’t be watching Zito throw, and based on Drellich’s report, Houston won’t be adding the former AL Cy Young Award winner, either. While Houston is interested in adding some veteran rotation depth, Drellich tweets that Zito “has interest elsewhere” and notes within his story that Houston’s a long shot to sign the lefty. The Giants did not watch him throw last week, GM Brian Sabean told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle last week (Twitter link).

Zito sat out the 2014 season after struggling to a 5.74 ERA in his final season with the Giants. Zito’s seven-year, $126MM contract with the Giants was an infamous disappointment, but the durable soft-tosser did soak up 180 or more innings in five of his seven years with San Francisco, and he cleared 190 innings in four of those seasons.

As for Albers, 12 teams were in attendance for his workout, during which he hit 91 mph on the radar gun. A recent MRI showed that the shoulder problems that sidelined Albers for nearly all of the 2014 season have cleared up, and he’s looking to sign with a team before Spring Training begins. Presumably, given the fact that Albers threw just 10 innings last year due to the injury, he’ll land somewhere on a minor league deal.

Such a deal could prove to be a bargain for a signing club, as the 32-year-old Albers has been excellent when healthy over the past three seasons. In that time, he owns a 2.63 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 59.4 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins were made aware of Albers’ showcase last week and are open to adding a bullpen arm, according to a previous reports. Other clubs looking to add to the bullpen are the Blue Jays, Brewers and Marlins. One would think that the Tigers could use additional bullpen depth after their relief corps struggled so greatly in 2014, and the Pirates, with their affinity for ground-ball pitchers, strike me as a possible match as well.


Free Agent Pitching Notes: Mulder, Zito, Coke

Here are a few pitching notes from around the game:

  • Long-time big leaguer Mark Mulder will not go after another comeback attempt this year, he tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 37-year-old lefty has not seen MLB action since 2008 and had a brief spring stint with the Angels cut short last year with a rupture of his Achilles tendon.
  • Like Mulder, fellow southpaw Barry Zito made his name with the early-21st century Athletics. Though he remains on track with his own comeback bid, Zito will not be making a late-career return to Oakland, which was not among the teams to watch him work out today, per Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter).
  • Free agent LOOGY Phil Coke threw recently for the Rangers and Blue Jays, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link.) Coke worked to a 3.88 ERA over 58 frames last year with the Tigers.