Barry Zito will start for the Athletics on Wednesday in what the veteran southpaw hinted would be his last Major League game, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. “So maybe I could pitch next year. But I have a son now, and the travel with a family is pretty nuts. I think about it, but I also know that I was pretty at peace with being done during those nine days,” Zito said, referring to the nine days between the end of the Triple-A season and his callup to Oakland. “There have been so many last starts for me. I would think this would be the last. Anything could happen still. I haven’t come out and said, ‘This is it.’ But that’s something I’ll have to mull over when I’m home-home (that’s Nashville for the next few months) in a week or so.”
Here’s more from around the AL West…
- Joe Smith is “confident” he’ll be able to pitch again before the end of the season, the reliever told reporters, including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. Smith suffered a sprained ankle on September 19 but has taken part in fielding drills and a bullpen session over the last two days, and he’ll throw another bullpen today. Smith’s return would be a boost to the Angels relief corps, which has already lost closer Huston Street for at least the rest of the regular season.
- Jon Singleton signed a five-year, $10MM extension with the Astros before ever playing a Major League game, a deal that at the time was criticized by some current and retired players (including Bud Norris and Mark Mulder) for being far too team-friendly. Two years into the contract, however, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes that the deal is looking more like a mistake on the Astros’ end as Singleton has both struggled and not even collected all that much service time. Drellich reports from one source that the Astros wouldn’t have made the deal in hindsight if they’d known how Singleton’s 2015 would unfold.
- The Astros‘ strategy of offering multi-year deals to players early (or even before) their MLB careers have begun may have backfired in Singleton’s case, though Drellich notes that Houston avoided more commitments when Robbie Grossman and Matt Dominguez both rejected similar extensions. The Astros may have already ultimately gotten a good return on this strategy since Jose Altuve‘s deal is looking like a bargain, which makes up for other mistakes.
- The decision to accept or reject such an early-career extension is a fascinating one for any player, as they’re facing possible peer (and union) pressure to “bet on themselves” in hopes of making more in the future, or to accept what’s already a life-changing sum of money and cash in on pure potential. Drellich speaks to former A’s outfielder Bobby Crosby, who signed a five-year, $12.75MM extension after his Rookie Of The Year season and doesn’t regret signing the deal since his career was hampered by injuries.
- During an appearance on the MLB Network (video link included), Peter Gammons said he doubts the Athletics will trade Sonny Gray this winter. This isn’t to say that a deal won’t eventually happen, however, perhaps as soon as the 2016-17 offseason when Gray becomes arbitration-eligible for the first time. Until then, Gray is one of the game’s biggest bargains, posting top-of-the-rotation numbers at just over a minimum salary.