Barry Zito Rumors

2014 Vesting Options Update

As we close in on the month of May, let's check in on the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season…

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  Prior to Opening Day, the Nats announced that Suzuki would be in a timeshare with Wilson Ramos behind the plate.  However, Ramos' hamstring has led to Suzuki starting 16 of the club's 23 games so far in 2013. Ramos is scheduled to rejoin the club on Monday, but if he suffers another setback, Suzuki could have a realistic shot at triggering his '14 option.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.  Carroll has surpassed that mark in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he has just 18 PAs as April comes to a close.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013).  Betemit suffered a PCL tear during the last week of Spring Training, keeping him out of action until at least mid-May.  When he returns, he figures to see less action than he did last year thanks to Manny Machado
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.  So far, Berkman has 19 games under his belt with 80 plate appearances.  He'll be within reach as long as he stays healthy.  In 2011, his last full season, Berkman racked up 587 PAs for the Cardinals.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  So far, Halladay has logged 28 and 1/3 innings through five April starts but the 259 mark remains a longshot.  However, it's worth nothing that Halladay has come close to that figure twice in the last six years (2008, 246 IP; 2010, 250.2 IP) and surpassed it once in his career (2003, 266 IP).
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  Myers is expected to miss most of May due to tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow.  So far, the right-hander has 21 and 1/3 innings to his credit in 2013.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched.  Zito has 23 and 2/3 innings so far through the month of April and will make his fifth start of the year tonight against the Padres.
  • 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 Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, 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.  Liriano has yet to take the hill in 2013, but he is expected to make his big league debut on May 10th vs. the Mets.  

The Future Of Barry Zito

Giants lefty Barry Zito has thrown 14 scoreless innings across two starts to begin his 2013 season.  Why does this matter?  As Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News notes, Zito will trigger an $18MM option for 2014 if he reaches 200 innings this season.  Furthermore, Zito would have the option of taking a $3.5MM buyout and becoming a free agent instead.

When I mentioned this a week ago, I didn't give much thought to the idea of Zito reaching 200 innings — he hasn't done it since his 2006 contract year with the A's.  But now, he has 14 innings in the books for his first two starts.  Here are his innings pitched per start numbers as a Giant:

  • 2007: 5.93
  • 2008: 5.63
  • 2009: 5.82
  • 2010: 6.01
  • 2011: 5.52
  • 2012: 5.76

If we generously assume that Zito will make 33 starts this year, he needs 186 over his final 31, for an average of exactly six innings per start from here on out.  Zito is capable of pulling this off, but I would not bet on it.

If Zito does reach 200 innings, Kawakami suggests the 2014 option triggering would be a good thing for the Giants.  That's because the Giants would have to pay a hefty $7MM buyout if Zito does not reach the threshold, so it's really a marginal cost of $11MM.  He makes a good point.  

Kawakami also notes that Zito could choose $3.5MM and free agency, instead.  If Zito could demand a two-year, $26.5MM deal (as Ryan Dempster did), plus the $3.5MM buyout, would that be better than just taking the $18MM for one year?  Yes, unless Zito is relatively certain he could get more than $12MM for his age 37 season in 2015.  If Zito does opt for free agency, I think the Giants would be unlikely to make a qualifying offer.

Zito's agent, Scott Boras, will be a big factor if he reaches 200 innings.  Boras is likely to push for free agency, as he has so many times before in these situations.

2014 Vesting Options

Recently, I crunched the numbers on vesting options from the last three years and found that just over 29% of them were triggered.  Which players can lock in their 2014 options based on their performance this season?  Let's take a look..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013).
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: $25MM option vests with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award.

It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, 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.

Giants Notes: Zito, Wilson, Theriot, Romo

Giants pitcher Barry Zito says that he would be open to a contract extension and wants to stay a Giant until he retires, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  The left-hander is entering the final year of his seven-year, $126MM deal, which includes a $7MM buyout for his option on the 2014 season.  Zito can have the full $18MM option vest with 200 innings of work in 2013.  He hasn't reached that total since 2006, but he has come within eight innings of 200 in three of his seasons in San Francisco.  Here's more on the Giants, courtesy of Schulman..

  • General Manager Sabean says he and Brian Wilson just aren't on the same page, Schulman tweets.  Wilson wants more guaranteed money in the deal while the Giants want something heavily based on incentives. 
  • Sabean said he "lost contact" with Theriot after a winter meetings overture, according to Schulman (on Twitter).  Sabean also says that he is open to talking about a long-term deal with Buster Posey.  If the Giants start things up with Theriot again, they'll have competition from the Indians, Rangers, and others.
  • If Sergio Romo pitches a true closer's workload, his two-year, $9MM deal could rise to $10.5MM in total with incentives and escalators for games finished, Schulman tweets.

NL Notes: Cardinals, Davey Johnson, Giants

Jimmy Dugan, Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own, memorably blurted, "There's no crying in baseball!" Now comes a mysterious member of the St. Louis Cardinals who offered this bit of sage advice, "No kissing teammates on the mouth." Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch chronicled this was the response, written on the team's marker board, to Adam Wainwright's comments that he kissed Carlos Beltran for hitting the game-tying 9th inning home run in the Cardinals' 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Cubs yesterday and that he wanted to kiss him on the mouth. Beltran is not in the lineup today because of an illness. Manager Mike Matheny, for one, is glad Wainwright reserved his kissing for the cheek.

  • Goold, in a separate article, explains the Cardinals' minor league philosophy is to groom contenders. They are succeeding with four affiliates making the playoffs this season including Double-A Springfield's Texas League championship. Goold's piece also features the standout and breakout player at each level.  
  • Davey Johnson, a leading candidate to win the NL Manager of the Year award, is not under contract to be the Nationals' manager next season. His 2013 deal only covers him being a team consultant. Does he want to manage next season? Johnson told reporters, including's William Ladson, "I've had conversations with (GM Mike) Rizzo about that, and he had conversations with ownership. I feel good about my situation. I feel good about where we are at. Those things will be addressed after the season. I think Rizzo and ownership are perfectly comfortable when deciding to have me back after this season is over. Again, I'm comfortable with that, too. Let's see what happens."  
  • Giants' manager Bruce Bochy says all five starters will be on the team's post-season roster, writes Andrew Baggarly of This would include Barry Zito, who was left off the roster for each round of the playoffs during the Giants' World Series title run in 2010.

Heyman On Lannan, Tigers, Abreu, Zito, Dunn

Here's the latest from Jon Heyman of

  • The Tigers' interest in John Lannan is only lukewarm at best and one executive told Heyman (via Twitter) that American League teams are leery of what switching leagues would do.  For their part, the Nationals still seem eager to move the left-hander.
  • With no real playing time likely available to Bobby Abreu, it might be for the best for the Angels to simply release the veteran, Heyman writes.  Even though Abreu's agents, Peter and Edward Greenberg, said his recent comments were taken out of context, Abreu is obviously frustrated and unhappy about his situation.
  • Is Barry Zito's contract the worst free agent deal ever? – Heyman believes that it is and it tops his top ten list.  John Lackey, Gary Matthews, Carl Pavano, and Mike Hampton round out the top five.
  • There are several theories as to why Adam Dunn wasn't able to produce last year, including the idea that his big contract got to him, writes Heyman.  The 32-year-old hit .159/.292/.277 in 122 games last season.

Cafardo On Red Sox, Lackey, Buehrle, Epstein

Upon joining the Cubs, Theo Epstein will leave behind one contractual headache in John Lackey and acquire another one in Carlos Zambrano, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  The difference between the two, as a National League scout pointed out, is that Zambrano could once again be a top-of-the-rotation hurler while some doubt if Lackey is even a No. 4 or 5 starter.  The answer for both clubs could be a "garbage-for-garbage" deal that allows them to exchange one bad contract for another.  Some prime candidates include Chone Figgins, Barry Zito, Vernon Wells, and Derek Lowe.  Here more from Cafardo..

  • While Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is an interesting free agent possibility for the Red Sox if they could get him on a two-year deal.  The veteran could be their No. 5 starter or serve as a strong lefty in the bullpen.
  • It's hard to tell if David Ortiz is serious about leaving the "drama" of Boston for the Yankees, but the veteran wouldn't be a fit in New York as they have no need for a DH.
  • A.J. Hinch, the vice president of pro scouting for the Padres, could have interest from teams like the Red Sox, and possibly the Cubs with Epstein there.  Las Vegas agrees, as oddsmaker Jimmy Shapiro placed Hinch as the odds-on favorite to get the Sox managerial job.  Meanwhile, Josh Byrnes is currently a special assistant with San Diego and could depart for a bigger role with Epstein in Chicago.
  • Mariners skipper Eric Wedge is a very interesting name that could be involved in the Red Sox’s managerial search.  However, getting Wedge out of his deal in Seattle could be a problem as he has a good deal of personnel power there.
  • Tony La Russa would be an interesting choice for Boston, but it appears he'll be staying in St. Louis or retiring.  La Russa has always spoken fondly of the city, but it doesn’t appear at this stage of his career that he would want to deal with some of the issues in the BoSox organization.
  • Brian Cashman's contract extension is nowhere near done.  The Yankees GM’s deal expires at the end of the month, but neither side is feeling any pressure to get something completed.
  • Meanwhile, Cashman's top two assistants, Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer, are being interviewed by the Angels for their GM job.  Cashman told the paper that he feels both men are absolutely qualified to take the next step.  Recently, our own Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke with Oppenheimer about the possibility of becoming a GM.
  • Cafardo wonders if history will be kinder to Dan Duquette now that the Theo Epstein era is concluding in Boston.  Duquette never won a championship as the Red Sox's GM but the 2004 team certainly had his fingerprints on it.  Now working as a business consultant, the longtime MLB exec never got the chance to be a GM again, but hasn't ruled out doing so in the right situation.

Giants Notes: Pujols, Cain, Lincecum, Zito

Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy discussed the 2011 season at a year-in-review press conference today and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:

  • The Giants are going to focus on the pitching staff before addressing the offense this winter.
  • There are strong indications that the Giants won’t push for free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, according to Schulman.
  • Sabean won’t rule out a long-term deal for Tim Lincecum, but negotiations with Matt Cain will be a higher priority, since Cain is eligible for free agency one year from now. Lincecum appears to prefer short-term deals anyway.
  • Barry Zito and non-tender candidate Jonathan Sanchez will be in Spring Training competing for the rotation, according to Sabean. This is the strongest indication yet that Sanchez will be tendered a contract this offseason. His salary will likely surpass $6MM in 2012.
  • Sabean and Bochy said Aubrey Huff didn’t do enough to get in shape last offseason and they have told him to do more this winter.
  • The Giants have said they want to upgrade in center field and the leadoff spot. They don’t consider Justin Christian to be the solution, so Schulman wonders if Coco Crisp could be a fit.
  • If the Giants don’t pick up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option, they’ll renegotiate another deal with him. As I explained earlier in the month, Affeldt would be in position to command a multiyear deal in free agency if the Giants allow him to hit the open market.
  • The Giants will look to add second base depth, though they may not be willing to meet Jeff Keppinger’s asking price.
  • Sabean says the Giants will give Cody Ross "due consideration" as a free agent, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (on Twitter).

Giants Notes: Baer, Zito, 2012 Payroll, San Jose

Bill Neukom officially announced that he will retire from his position as the Giants' CEO at the end of the season, according to a press release from the club.  Current team president and COO Laurence Baer will officially take over as the Giants' new CEO on January 1, 2012.  Here are a few of the hot stove-related items from Baer's introductory press conference today at AT&T Park, plus some other links related to the transition….

  • Baer said he wants Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy to remain as the Giants' GM and manager, respectively, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.  Sabean and Bochy are both under contract only through 2012, though both have been expected to receive extensions given the team's World Series title last year.  Kawakami also speculates about the "dysfunction at the highest levels" that led to Neukom's retirement and guesses the Giants will be operate "much more like a corporation than before."
  • Baer said the Giants' payroll next season "won't go down" from what the team spent in 2011, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, though Baer didn't say if payroll would rise, either.  According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Giants' 2011 payroll was a little over $118MM.  The club has a few notable contracts coming off the books (Cody Ross, Mark DeRosa) but if the payroll doesn't rise, that will take the Giants out of the running for a top free agent like Prince Fielder.
  • Also via a tweet from Shea, Baer didn't elaborate on Barry Zito's future in San Francisco, other than to say that players under contract for 2012 should be expected to be with the team next year.
  • The Giants are just switching CEOs, not ownership, so Major League Baseball doesn't have any leverage that would allow it to force the Giants to drop their objection to the A's moving to San Jose, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (both Twitter links).

NL West Notes: Giants, Dipoto, Zito, Rockies

Let's take a look at a few items out of the NL West..

  • This winter, the Giants will have 13 players eligible for salary arbitration and seven players hitting free agency.  Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle peered into his crystal ball to predict which players would return to the club in 2012.
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports gives credit to Diamondbacks exec Jerry Dipoto for his role in the club's success.  The former interim general manager could have looked for another GM gig after the position was given to Kevin Towers last year, but he instead chose to be a company man.  Recently, Tim Dierkes spoke to Dipoto about his career in baseball and his future aspirations.
  • If all goes well, it looks like Giants pitcher Barry Zito will soon be activated and will get the chance to show the club where he stands, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.  Recently, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy admitted that he wasn't sure where the lefty fits into the team's long-term plans.
  • Given their other needs, Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) expects the Rockies to wait another year to address their first base situation.