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.