Barry Zito Rumors

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.

Pitching Notes: Zito, Belisario, Twins

Former AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito is throwing for  “select group” of teams on Tuesday, agent Scott Boras tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Zito, who sat out the 2014 season, is eyeing a return to the game and hopes to sign with a team before Spring Training. He last followed up a respectable 2012 season with a dismal 2013 campaign, pitching to a 5.74 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 133 1/3 innings for the Giants.

Here are a few more pitching notes from around the game:

  • Ronald Belisario‘s contract with the Rays can max out at $1.8MM if he reaches all of his incentives, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Belisario inked a minor league pact with the Rays over the weekend just days after a similar deal with the Blue Jays fell through. The right-hander will compete for a spot in Tampa’s bullpen this spring.
  • The Twins are open to adding some relief help, according to previous reports, but Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the team isn’t showing interest in righty David Aardsma at this time. The former Mariners closer, who enjoyed a strong season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014, will audition for clubs next Monday.
  • Speaking of the Twins‘ bullpen, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger did his best to sort out the many candidates in his latest Twins Inbox column. In addition to his take on who is most likely to comprise Minnesota’s relief corps in 2015, Bollinger notes that offseason signee Tim Stauffer will get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation, despite the fact that most believed he was signed as a bullpen addition.

Free Agent Notes: Moncada, Olivera, Belisario, Santana, Zito

While he awaits clearance from the government, Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada is putting on showcases for interested teams. The Yankees have already put the 19-year-old through the paces, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. In addition to New York and the previously-reported Giants, Moncada has worked out for the BrewersRangersRed Sox, and Padres, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Meanwhile, the DodgersRaysCubs, and Phillies have shown interest. For their part, the Twins will not seek a private workout because they believe the bidding will go too high, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

Here are some more free agent notes:

  • Fellow Cuban second bagger Hector Olivera will begin a two-day open showcase in the Dominican Republic tomorrow, Badler reports on Twitter. Olivera figures to be more of an immediate contributor than the younger Moncada.
  • Clubs interested in righty Ronald Belisario, as with Burke Badenhop, include the Blue Jays and Nationals, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 32-year-old has run up solid innings totals over each of the last three years, but has seen his ERA steadily move north during that stretch. On the other hand, ERA estimators have viewed him as a solidly average performer in each of those seasons, with a low strand rate likely causing most of his troubles in 2014.
  • The YankeesBlue Jays, and Padres are three of the approximately six teams pursuing lefty Johan Santana, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. An upcoming Venezuelan league start could have some bearing on where the one-time ace ends up.
  • Another prominent lefty is plotting his comeback as well. Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), Barry Zito still plans to return to baseball after a year off and will put on a showcase this spring. The 36-year-old last threw in 2013, working to a career-worst 5.74 ERA over 133 1/3 innings.

Barry Zito Eyeing Comeback In 2015

After sitting out the 2014 season, left-hander Barry Zito is looking to make a comeback in 2015, agent Scott Boras told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle last month (Twitter link). At this week’s GM Meetings, Boras told reporters, including ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick: “[Zito] called me on the phone in August and said, ‘I’m ready to go. I want to pitch.’ He set up the plan and did all of that.”

Zito, the 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner, signed an infamous seven-year, $126MM contract with the Giants that quickly went south and became one of the game’s larger albatrosses (though that didn’t stop the Giants from winning a pair of World Series Championships during the life of the deal). Zito posted a 4.62 ERA in 1139 1/3 innings for the Giants over that seven-year term — a far cry from the 3.55 mark the lefty notched in his seven seasons with Oakland.

In his career, Zito has pitched to a 4.02 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 37.9 percent ground-ball rate. Though he was never a hard-thrower — the highest single-season average fastball velocity of his career was 87.3 mph in 2005 — Zito’s velocity dipped to dangerously low levels late in his tenure with the Giants and bottomed out at just 83.2 mph in 2013.

Zito, who will turn 37 next May, would almost certainly have to settle for a minor league deal, but his experience and past success could be intriguing to some teams looking for rotation depth.


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Quick Hits: Ramirez, Hitting Coaches, Hudson, Zito

Two-time NPB MVP Alex Ramirez has retired, Jun Hongo of the Wall Street Journal Japan reports. The 40-year-old Ramirez played briefly for the Indians and Pirates between 1998 and 2000, but it wasn’t until he headed to Yakult for the 2001 season that his career really got going. He hit 29 homers that year and quickly emerged as one of the most feared sluggers in Japan, hitting 40 or more home runs three times in his career. Ramirez finished his NPB career in 2013 with 380 homers for Yakult, Yomiuri and Yokohama, then played and coached last season with the independent Gunma Diamond Pegasus club. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • Athletics hitting coach Chili Davis has left the team to become the new hitting coach of the Red Sox, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com tweets. Davis hit 350 home runs in a 19-year career with the Giants, Angels, Twins, Royals and Yankees, then worked in the Dodgers and Red Sox systems before signing on with the Athletics prior to the 2012 season. In his previous stint with the Red Sox, Davis served as the hitting coach at Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox will begin interviewing candidates for their assistant hitting coach position this week, Bradford and Alex Speier report.
  • With Davis out, the Athletics are now looking for a hitting coach, and one candidate is Angels assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Angels could also promote Hansen to replace Don Baylor, who missed much of last season with a freak leg injury. Hansen, known as a pinch-hitter throughout much of his career, played 15 seasons with the Dodgers, Cubs, Padres and Mariners. The Athletics could also consider Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan, Slusser tweets.
  • If the A’s do have interest in Magadan, the won’t be the only ones. Davis had previously been a top candidate for the open Yankees hitting coach job, and the Yankees could now turn to Magadan, who interviewed Wednesday, George A. King III and John DeMarzo of the New York Post report. The former infielder played 16 seasons with the Mets, Marlins, Mariners, Astros, Cubs, Athletics and Padres.
  • Barry Zito‘s seven-year contract with the Giants didn’t turn out so well, but he did help them land Tim Hudson, Ryan Hood of MLB.com writes. When both pitchers were free agents last winter, Hudson called his former Athletics teammate to see what he thought of playing in San Francisco. “I said it’s a first-rate organization, from the top down,” says Zito, who assured Hudson that Giants fans had changed since the two pitchers had played together in Oakland. “Giants fans had a little more of a rep of just coming out for baseball games and not really having a die-hard presence and creating an intimidating atmosphere. It was very light. I told him 2010 changed everything.” Hudson posted a 3.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 189 1/3 innings for the Giants this season. Zito, meanwhile, says he determined in August 2013 that he would “take some time away from the game and focus on family.” He did not pitch this season.