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Barry Zito Rumors
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.
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 Brewers, Rangers, Red Sox, and Padres, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Meanwhile, the Dodgers, Rays, Cubs, 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 Yankees, Blue 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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 Torres, Bill 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.
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.
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.
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
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.