Barry Zito Rumors

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.

Free Agent Notes: Zito, Perez, Gaudin, Colvin, Burnett

In case you missed it from Friday, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark provided an interesting look at the views of 23 MLB executives on the still-concluding off-season. Intervening events already have impacted some of the conclusions (and will continue to do so), but the piece is chock full of interesting observations nonetheless. Among them: whether or not the money was all wisely spent, the voters say that the Yankees are the most improved team in the American League. A comparatively quiet off-season from the National League left the Nationals as the most improved club on that side (largely on the back of the Doug Fister trade), with the Padres a somewhat surprising choice for the second slot. As for least improved, the Orioles and Blue Jays top the list on the AL side, though Baltimore has already made an off-season altering move and Toronto still could. (The Tigers came in third.) The Reds and Pirates pulled up the rear among National League teams. After the Fister deal (an "all-time heist," as Stark summed up the collective viewpoint), voters liked the Rays' trade for Ryan Hanigan and the Athletics' acquisition of Jim Johnson.

Here are notes on some other free agent situations around the game …

  • Last we checked in with lefty Barry Zito, it was to learn that his option was being declined by the Giants. The reason, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, is that Zito has apparently not done anything to pursue a contract. Though he is not necessarily hanging up his spikes for good, says Heyman, the 36-year-old will seemingly not pitch in 2014.
  • Southpaw Oliver Perez is considering offers from four clubs, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. A decision is expected in short order.
  • Swingman Chad Gaudin tweeted today that he is in line for surgery and expects to be at 100% in three months. Gaudin, was recently released by the Phillies when he failed his physical, did not disclose details of his malady.
  • Outfielder Tyler Colvin could still end up with the Orioles, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Baltimore somewhat infamously blew up its contract with the 28-year-old after he failed his physical.
  • A.J. Burnett was mistaken when he said that the Orioles did not express much interest in him, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). In fact, says Rosenthal, Baltimore made multiple offers but Burnett wanted to pitch in the National League.

Giants Decline Options On Zito, Torres

SUNDAY: The Giants opted for a $500K buyout instead of exercising Torres' $3MM option, tweets MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.

SATURDAY: The Giants officially declined their $18MM option on lefty Barry Zito and their option on outfielder Andres TorresBill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Zito will receive a $7MM buyout.

The Zito decision is no surprise, as the 35-year-old posted a 5.74 ERA in 133 1/3 innings pitched this season, the final guaranteed year of the seven year, $126MM deal he inked with San Francisco before the 2007 season. Zito never lived up to the lofty expectations of that contract, pitching to a 4.62 ERA in more than 1,100 innings over the life of the pact.

Declining Zito's option creates another hole in the rotation for the Giants, who have two slots to fill behind Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner even after re-signing Tim Lincecum. As MLBTR's Zach Links noted in his Offseason Outlook on the Giants, the club could see if Ryan Vogelsong can right the ship by picking up his $6.5MM club option, and internal candidates such as Yusmeiro Petit and Eric Surkamp should also be in the mix. The Giants have also reportedly watched Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne throw in Barcelona.

Torres, also 35, hit just .250/.302/.342 for San Francisco after reuniting with the club on a one year, $2MM deal.



Giants Notes: Zito, Abreu, Tanaka

If he had the choice to do it over again, Giants GM Brian Sabean says he would still have signed Barry Zito to his massive seven-year, $126MM contract, Andrew Baggarly of Comcast Sports Net Bay Area tweets. That's likely merely a case of a GM expressing confidence in and goodwill toward his player, since Zito has essentially been a back-of-the-rotation starter since the contract was signed, never posting an ERA better than his 4.03 mark in 2009. Zito has totaled just 5.9 fWAR over the life of the contract (which expires at the end of the season), making him one of the most overpaid players in baseball history. Here are more notes on the Giants.

  • Sabean is bearish on the free agent market, both for pitching and hitting, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. He will instead prioritize retaining his own players. The Giants will, however, be looking for another starting pitcher, even if they keep Tim Lincecum.
  • Sabean says the window of opportunity that led to the Giants winning the 2012 World Series is now shut, tweets John Shea of the Chronicle. "We've got to create a new window," Sabean says.
  • The Giants aren't likely to be top bidders for international players like Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu or Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, tweets Baggarly. Sabean has scouted Abreu in the Dominican Republic, but Shea writes that the Giants didn't think highly of Abreu's swing or his defense.

California Links: Lincecum, Zito, Wolff, Ellis

Tim Lincecum could be making his last start with the Giants tonight and he tells John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he would like to remain a Giant but is open to other options.  "I've always said I'd like to see the relationship go further. But until I know what's on the table, I can't really dismiss anything else. I try to take advice from my agent and do something that's going to make me happy as well," Lincecum said.  He also noted that he is open to pitching anywhere, be it away from the west coast or in a warmer climate.  Lincecum has an edge over at least one other notable free agent hurler, as over 62% of MLBTR readers polled would prefer to sign Lincecum over Ubaldo Jimenez.

Here are some more news items from baseball's California squads…

  • Speaking of last starts with the Giants, Barry Zito pitched five innings of two-run ball on Wednesday to earn a win in what was very likely his final outing in the orange-and-black.  The veteran southpaw told reporters (including MLB.com's Chris Haft) that his time in San Francisco was "95 percent great and the other 5 percent terrible," and Zito was widely praised by his teammates.  Zito posted a 4.62 ERA after signing a seven-year, $126MM deal with the Giants that is widely regarded as one of the worst contracts in baseball history.  At age 35, Zito says he has "no idea" if he'll try to continue his career next season, saying a decision will come later.
  • Athletics owner Lew Wolff discussed how the A's have (again) rebuilt themselves into contenders, how he works with general manager Billy Beane, and the Oakland stadium situation as part of a wide-ranging interview with MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom.
  • Mark Ellis' excellent second base glove and his veteran leadership have made him an underrated part of the Dodgers' success, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon writes.  Ellis turned 36 in June and has a .264/.317/.343 batting line in 466 PA, so it's questionable if the Dodgers will exercise their $5.75MM team option on Ellis for 2014.  Whether L.A. keeps him or not, Ellis said he intends to play next season.
  • Earlier tonight, we collected a batch of Angels-related notes.

California Notes: Zito, Colletti, Angels

The Athletics moved into a tie for first place in the AL West with today's 4-2 victory over the Rangers.  Today's game was the first of six head-to-head matchups between Oakland and Texas in September, so it's very possible that we're in for another pennant race that goes right down to the last day between these two clubs.

Here's the latest baseball news out of the Golden State…

  • Barry Zito won't be designated for assignment or otherwise removed from the roster, Bruce Bochy told reporters, including Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.  The Giants need to open two 40-man roster spaces to accommodate their September callups by tomorrow and Zito could've been a candidate given how poorly has had pitched since mid-May.  This cold streak may end Zito's tenure in San Francisco, as while the Giants obviously weren't going to pick up Zito's $18MM option for 2014, Baggarly notes the club could've pursued a new, less-expensive deal with the veteran lefty.
  • The Dodgers are known for spending freely but ESPN's Buster Olney illustrates (in an Insider-only piece) how general manager Ned Colletti has inexpensively added to his bullpen and bench depth.
  • The Brewers would appear to have gotten the better end of the 2012 deal that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels in exchange for Jean Segura and two minor league pitchers, but Halos GM Jerry Dipoto doesn't regret the trade. "I absolutely understand what the criteria was when we made the trade and why we made it," Dipoto says in an article by Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, noting that the club was leading the AL wild card race at the time and needed to bolster its rotation.
  • If the Red Sox can quickly return to contention after a disappointing season, could the Angels rebound from this year's problems to contend in 2014?  Grantland's Jonah Keri thinks it would be "a gigantic long shot," given the Angels' deeper roster problems and a lack of minor league talent following several ill-advised trades of prospects, such as the Segura deal.
  • From earlier today, MLBTR reported that Mike Zagurski opted out of his Athletics contract and was now a free agent.

MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post


Barry Zito Clears Waivers

Giants lefty Barry Zito has cleared waivers and is free to be traded to any team, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, however, Zito doesn't appear to be a trade candidate at this time.

The 35-year-old Zito is in the final season of a seven-year, $126MM contract with the Giants. The contract has been widely panned, and while Zito has had some respectable seasons in San Francisco, this hasn't been one of them. He's pitched to a 5.40 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. He's been outstanding at home for the Giants, totaling a 3.01 ERA In 71 2/3 innings, but he has an eye-popping 9.50 ERA away from AT&T Park, having allowed 44 earned runs in 41 2/3 frames.

Zito's contract contains an $18MM vesting option that would trigger if he were to reach 200 innings this season. That's extremely unlikely to happen, as he's 84 2/3 innings short of that mark. He's earning a whopping $20MM in 2013, of which about $5.14MM is remaining.

Because of his underwhelming performance and hefty salary, it seems likely that he will close out his massive contract with the Giants. Zito becomes the fifth player to reportedly clear waivers since the beginning of August.


Players Who Have Cleared Waivers

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season's final two months. Remember though, players must be acquired by Aug. 31 to be eligible for their new team's postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. Also bear in mind that a player's no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

Last Updated: 8-15-2013

  • Elvis Andrus, Rangers — Andrus is under contract for an additional nine years and $124.475MM, making it no surprise that teams passed on claiming him. He was hitting .255/.317/.306 at the time he cleared waivers — a notable decline in production for the 24-year-old. The Rangers reportedly have no intention to trade him.
  • Erik Bedard, Astros — Bedard owns a 4.28 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 21 starts and two relief outings in 2013 for Houston.  The southpaw, who cleared waivers on Aug. 14, would be a really cheap pickup as he is owed just $300K for the rest of the season.  
  • Dan Haren, Nationals — Haren was placed on waivers on Aug. 8 without any clubs biting on him and his remaining $3.7MM in salary.  The right-hander owns a 4.99 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 so far in 2013 and he could be of interest to teams if the Nationals fall further back in the Wild Card chase. 
  • Brendan Ryan, Mariners — Word came down of Ryan clearing waivers on Aug. 14.  The M's were said to have him available before July 31st but couldn't find any takers.  
  • Matt Lindstrom, White Sox — Everyone needs relief help, but the White Sox were selling at the non-waiver deadline and couldn't find a suitable deal for Lindstrom.  The reliever, who has a 3.47 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9, cleared waivers on Aug. 14.
  • Justin Morneau, Twins — Morneau cleared waivers on Aug. 14, when he had roughly $3.5MM remaining on his $14MM salary. A free agent at season's end, Morneau was dreadful in July, batting .175/.266/.330. He homered six times in his first 10 games of August though, which could make teams reconsider their stance.
  • Barry Zito, Giants — Zito cleared waivers on Aug. 14, but at that point still had $5.14MM remaining on his $20MM salary. With an ERA north of 5.00 and that kind of money remaining on his deal, it seems likely that Zito will play out the rest of his widely panned contract in San Francisco.
  • Josh Johnson, Blue Jays — With more than $4MM left on his salary at the time he was placed on waivers, no team was apparently willing to take a risk that the big righty's poor results will begin to reflect his more promising peripherals. Unless Johnson hits an August hot streak, it seems likely that the Jays will hold onto him and consider whether to make him a qualifying offer when he reaches free agency at the end of the year.
  • Adam Dunn, White Sox — That Dunn cleared waivers isn't a huge surprise, given his $15MM salary in 2013 and in 2014. He's been red-hot since June 1, however, which could lead contending AL teams such as the Orioles and Rangers to show interest if the White Sox are willing to include some cash in the deal.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies — Rollins has taken a big step back in production this year (especially on the power side of the ledger) and is owed $11MM for 2014 (and possibly the same for 2015 if his option vests). The 34-year-old shortstop seems discinclined to waive his full no-trade rights, making him unlikely to change hands.
  • Michael Young, Phillies — The third baseman could be an August trade candidate given his expiring contract, experience, and serviceable (if unspectacular) 2013 campaign. He is reportedly willing to waive his no-trade protection to go to a contender.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


2014 Vesting Options Update

As we turn to August, here's a look at the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  The Nats were relying on Suzuki during the first half of the season when Wilson Ramos was sidelined, but Ramos returned to action on July 4th, sliding Suzuki back down the depth chart.  The 29-year-old is 45 starts shy of the needed mark with 52 games remaining, so Suzuki's chances aren't too strong.  if/when the option doesn't vest, it'll become a club option worth $8.5MM with a modest $650K buyout.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has 185 PAs in 53 games this season.  The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he'll have his work cut out for him in 2013.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and he'll begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday.  Needless to say, his option won't vest.
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.  Berkman has 282 plate appearances to his credit and the good news is that despite whispers that he might call it quits after his latest hip troubles, he pledges to return this season.  Unfortunately for him, his rehab assignment isn't scheduled to get underway until the end of this week and 550 sounds like a longshot.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  This was a longshot to begin with, but shoulder surgery earlier this season makes this one impossible.
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and has yet to return.  When he does come back, it's possible that the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has racked up 111 and 1/3 innings through 21 starts this season.  Zito probably won't get to lock in his sizable 2014 salary.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

It's also worth noting that Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels – $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM – based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.  It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however.  The left-hander made his season debut on May 11th and has a 2.02 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 through 16 starts this season.


2014 Vesting Options Update

As we enter July, let's check on the players who are hoping to lock in their options for the 2014 season..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  The Nats planned to have Suzuki split time at catcher with Wilson Ramos, but Suzuki has started 59 games (counting tonight's game against the Brewers) behind the plate thanks to Ramos' hamstring troubles.  Ramos is currently rehabbing in the minors, however, and he could be back in action for the club on Thursday, according to the latest update from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Suzuki is slashing just .226/.286/.332, so it stands to reason that Ramos will see the lion's share of starts if he stays healthy.  If Suzuki doesn't reach 113 starts, the Nats will have an $8.5MM club option with a $650K buyout. 
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.  The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years but has just 146 PAs so far.  
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and just resumed baseball activities late last week.  Couple that with Manny Machado holding down third base and it's hard to see Betemit's option vesting.
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. So far, Berkman is has 268 plate appearances through 64 games this season.  Berkman scared the baseball world when he took a tumble down the stairs of the team plane and tweaked his troublesome right knee, but the injury is said to be minor and shouldn't cost him serious time.  In 2011, his last full season, the slugger racked up 587 PAs.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  This was a longshot anyway, but shoulder surgery in May makes this an impossibility.
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and is still working towards his return.  When he does come back, the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.   
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has 91 and 1/3 innings to his credit through 16 starts this season.  He'll still need some things to go in his favor, but so far his chances of locking up 2014 are still alive.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels – $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM – based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of an injury to his non-throwing arm.  However, it's not known how many days he has to avoid missing time due to his right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option.  Liriano returned to action on May 11th and has looked strong in ten starts.  The left-hander has a 2.23 ERA on the year with 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.